Salmon Head Stock: Recipe for Strong Bones
Tara Carpenter, NC.
Specialized in supporting those with digestive disorders, yeast overgrowth, and on The Body Ecology Diet.
Salmon heads are packed with tender meat and abundant fat along the jawbone. They are especially prized for making fish stock as a base for soup of all kinds and contain vitamin A, Omega-3, iron, zinc, and calcium.
I was apprehensive to make salmon head stock. Though I had experience with chicken and other meat stocks, I’d never made fish stock and imagined the whole house smelling ‘fishy’.
I knew the benefits of drinking this liquid gold; that fish head stock strengthens bones and joints, reverse tooth decay, and is anti-inflammatory. I knew fish stock can heal the thyroid, eyes, and gut lining. What convinced me most though was the fact that fish head stock is a traditional food that’s been around for centuries and revered in most parts of the world.
As many of my readers know, I am love preserving the art of preparing traditional foods like milk kefir, cod liver oil, unsalted kraut, marrow, and liver. These are the foods I give attention to, the foods I talk and write about. The foods gracing my kitchen on a regular basis with the hopes of normalizing them for my own children who will one day give them to their own children; my grandchildren.
This is what propelled me to the fish market to buy a pair of wild salmon heads. Upon making the stock, I was surprised to find the smell pleasant and the stock as savory as any chicken stock with a delicacy all its own …. was easy to make too, just two hours from start to finish.
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
- 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.
- Clean thoroughly with water.
- Place them in a soup pot with enough water to cover heads by at least 1-inch.
- Add in 2-4 garlic cloves (peeled), 2 bay leaves, and 1-2 Tbs. of thinly sliced ginger.
- Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 30-45 minutes, should only bubble slightly, note that cooking for more than an hour will turn the stock bitter.
- Skim off any foam that may rise to the top.
- Strain through a couple layers of cheesecloth.
- Pick the meat and soft tissue off bones, anything soft is edible, including eyes and brains.
- Return the meat and tissue to the stock.
- Store in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze properly 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 the stock and the fatty tissue around the eyes is a rich source of vitamin A in an animal’s body.
- The head is the healthiest part of fish to eat, but you can also add spine and other bones.
- Salmon heads give stock strong flavor; if you want milder flavor try halibut, bass, cod, or other white fish. You can use 1 type of fish or a combination.
- This is a friendly recipe for those on The Body Ecology Diet; a healing protocol for gut imbalances (i.e., yeast overgrowth, GBS+).
- If you have a leaky gut, Crohn’s, autism, ADHD, seizures/tics, then 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 some people.
- Hard time sourcing fish heads? Special order them from these guys. Let us know if you find another good source!
- Here’s a good list of fish to eat, fish to avoid.
The recipe above is from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel who says the best stock for bone/tooth decay comes from wild fish carcasses, heads, and organs.
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
Photo credit: https://thedomesticman.com/tag/stock/
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May all bellies be happy