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Salmon Head Fish Stock: In My Kitchen (recipe)

Salmon Head Fish Stock: In My Kitchen (recipe)

Tara Carpenter, NC.

Holistic nutrition for people on The Body Ecology Diet (B.E.D.)

Originally published on April 1, 2019.

Hello! My name is Tara and I hail to you from my kitchen in Vermont to talk about how awesome salmon heads are; packed with tender meat and abundant fat along jawbone, they are prized for making a rich fish stock that you can use as a base for soup of any kind. Salmon head fish stock contains vitamin A, Omega-3, iron, zinc, and calcium.

I will say that I felt apprehensive to make fish stock because I only have experience with making meat stock (chicken/rooster/lamb/beef/etc.) and imagined my whole home smelling very fishy!

My youngest son eating a whole fish, eyes, brain, and all.

Here are the benefits of fish (and meat) stock … basically, this liquid gold can strengthen bones and joints, reverse tooth decay, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and brings health to thyroid, eyes, and gut lining. What convinced me though to FINALLY make fish head stock is that this traditional food has been around for centuries and is revered in near every part of the world. And so into the kitchen I went!

As my readers know, I love traditional foods like milk kefir, cod liver oil, unsalted kraut, marrow, and liver. These are the foods I give my attention to and talk about. The foods gracing my kitchen with hope of normalizing them for my children who will one day give to my grandchildren 🙂

This looking ahead is what propelled me to the fish market for a pair of wild salmon heads. On making the stock, I am surprised the smell is pleasant and the stock savory as chicken stock with a delicacy all its own. Very easy to make! Two hours start to finish.

My youngest enjoying a fish head.
He will eat every morsel off the head, loves that part most.

Fish Head Stock 

Makes: about 5 cups


1-2 pounds of salmon fish heads

2-4 garlic cloves

1-2 bay leaves

1-2 Tbsp. ginger, thinly sliced


  1. Remove gills with kitchen shears; these are attached to the head on each end; cut them at the joint where they attach. Discard. If you skip this part, the gills will give stock bad color and off-taste. Ask the guy behind the fish counter to remove them for you.
  2. Clean thoroughly with water.
  3. Place them in a soup pot with enough water to cover heads by at least 1-inch.
  4. Add 2-4 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1-2 Tbs. thin sliced ginger.
  5. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low.  
  6. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, should only bubble slightly, note that cooking for more than an hour will turn the stock bitter.
  7. Skim off any foam that may rise to the top.
  8. Strain through a couple layers of cheesecloth.
  9. Pick the meat and soft tissue off bones, anything soft is edible, including eyes and brains.
  10. Return the meat and tissue to the stock.
  11. Store in fridge up to 5 days or freeze for several months.

Tips & Tricks

  • Add sauteed onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, or lemon at any point while fish heads cook.
  • Substitute fish stock for vegetable stock in fish chowder or creamy salmon soup.
  • Squeamish about fish eyes? No worries, they dissolve into stock and fatty tissue around eyes is rich in vitamin A.
  • Head is healthiest part of fish to eat, also the spine. 
  • Salmon heads give stock strong flavor; if want mild flavor try cod, halibut, bass, or another white fish. Use one type of fish or combo.
  • This is a friendly recipe for those on The Body Ecology Diet; a healing protocol for gut imbalances (i.e., yeast overgrowth, GBS+).
  • If have leaky gut, Crohn’s, autism, ADHD, seizures/tics, avoid long-cooked broth. Stick to short-cooked stocks because free glutamates (MSG, glutamine, glutamic acid) increase the longer bones are cooked. This can bother people.
  • Hard time sourcing fish heads? Special order from these guys
  • Here’s a list of fish to eat, fish to avoid.

This recipe is from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel who says best stock for bone/tooth decay comes from wild fish carcasses, heads, and organs.

Rooster Meat Stock Recipe

How I Make Apple Cider Kefir

LivAmend for Liver Support


Nagel, R. (2011). Cure Tooth Decay. Los Gatos, CA: Golden Child Publishing

Paula, CHS. (2012). Author of a website called Whole Intentions Fish Heads in My Stock Pot

Schuette, K. (2017). Stock vs. Broth – Are You Confused. Retrieved from Healthy Home Economist

Worker Bee (2016). Fish Head Broth. Retrieved from Mark’s Daily Apple

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 May all bellies be happy!

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9 replies on “Salmon Head Fish Stock: In My Kitchen (recipe)”

30-45 minutes is the correct amount of time to allow things to simmer. Thank you for bringing that error to my attention, I was editing that recipe a couple days ago and forgot to delete that above line 🙂

Exactly how long should it simmer? Number 5 says it should simmer 30 minutes. Then number 6 says to simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Does that mean it should simmer 1 hr to 1 hr and 15 minutes? thanks

I haven’t tried slow cooking it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’d just watch it closely the first time you do it, as some slow cookers heat up quite hot and it’s best if this stock simmers at a very slow bubble. You could always lift the lid a bit to keep it so if need be.

Thanks for sharing! I wonder if i can slowcook this one, have you tried?

Yes, I use a variety of stocks as the base for many things that cook in liquid. I bet that risotto would take on a lovely flavor when cooked in the fish stock!

This is such a great idea! I’ve never thought about making stock from salmon heads. How cool. I bet this might taste really good in a risotto with fish? Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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