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Fish stock Read a note about the flaws of Finnish stocks here.

Good, flavourful fish stock is made with leftover fish trimmings, vegetables, spices and water. For most part, it is best to use trimmings from lean fish, like perch, pike, bream, pike-perch, roach, cod, etc, as using salmon or other fatty fish only would make the stock too oily and gelatinous.

Note that compared to meat and chicken stocks, more fish trimmings are needed in proportion to water in order to give the stock a strong enough flavour.

Although it might be tempting to add *that little bit of extra water*, thinking there would be even more of the flavourful stock as a result, resist this urge, as even a dash of excess water will yield a weak, watery stock and all your efforts have been in vain  —  you might just as well use a stock cube or fumet from a bottle...

fresh trimmings and scraps from a minimum of two large, lean fish (may include some from salmon or other oily fish)  —  spines, bones, fins, heads and tails
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
green part of leek
large bunch of fresh dill
1 bay leaf
a few black peppercorns
dash of salt
(1 - 2 lemon slices)
about 1,3 - 1,5 l cold water (or enough to just cover the ingredients)

Remove the gills from the fish heads. The gills would make the stock cloudy and give it a "stuffy" taste. Scrape or peel the carrots and cut them into large chunks. Halve the peeled onion. Cut the green part of leek in smaller pieces. Take the dill stems only and save the leafy ends for flavouring of the final soup.

Place the fish trimmings in a medium-sized saucepan together with the vegetables, dill stems and other spices (see figure 1 below). Add just enough water to barely cover the ingredients in the pan (figure 2). Bring the mixture to the boil (figure 3).

  Figure 1   Figure 2
  Figure 1 Arrow Figure 2
  Place the stock ingredients in the saucepan   Pour in water just enough to cover the ingredients
  Figure 3   Figure 4
Arrow Figure 3 Arrow Figure 4
  Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour   Sieve the stock

Let the stock boil gently for at least 45 minutes, preferably for one hour. The stock will be ready when it has a good, strong taste of fish and all the ingredients are completely mushy. Let the stock stand for a while, then strain it through a fine sieve. Discard the mushy ingredients left behind in the pan.

Cool the stock  —  it will keep for a couple of days in refrigerator or it can be frozen for later use. Depending on the amount of gelatine, the stock may congeal after cooling, but will again liquidize when reheated.

Use this stock as a base to prepare various seafood soups, like traditional Finnish fish soup, salmon soup, crayfish soup, etc.

Note: weak-tasting stocks and sauces (and, indeed, many other foods) are the worst flaws of Finnish cuisine. Perhaps as a remnant of the once poor diet where fresh ingredients were scarce, they are used very stingily even today, especially in stocks and soups, the weak flavour of which is then enriched and overpowered with all sorts of unnecessary supplements or excessive use of spices and thickening agents. Finns do not grasp the idea that the flavour of a dish is created mainly by its main ingredients, whether meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, instead of spices and stock cubes.

Recipe source: family recipe.


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