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How-To

One Stock Makes Three Flavorful Fish Stews

Mastering the fish-stock base lets you easily make a creamy chowder, a tangy salmon soup, or a hot and spicy court bouillon

Fine Cooking Issue 18
Photos: Rita Maas. Illustrations: Rosalie Vaccaro.
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All fish stews are made with fish stock. To put it another way, you cannot make fish stew without fish stock. You can make this important component in less than an hour, and freeze it so that you always have some on hand. Fish stock is made by gently cooking fish bones, heads, and other fish trimmings with aromatic vegetables in water. If you cannot get heads, just bones and fillet scraps will do. Alford gives much detailed advice on what parts of the fish are suitable for stock, how to find good fish bones, how to clean fish bones (two line drawings supplement her explanation), what fish supply the best bones, and so on. She adds a brief survey of what aromatics (vegetables) some cooks use or avoid. Then she discusses the cooking process, beginning with choosing a pot and “sweating” (low-heat sautéing) the vegetables, and taking us through skimming, warnings not to overcook, and decanting. Then Alford shares the recipes for three of her favorite fish stews. Recipes include: Basic Fish Stock; Creole Court Bouillon; Seafood Chowder; and Salmon Solianka.

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