When I first heard about making fish stock my thought was, “Eww. Who wants to drink fish-flavored water?” But upon reading further I discovered that it wasn’t just the ‘fish’ you used, but the ‘fish head’.
Trust me. I didn’t think I’d swoon from the temptation of it.
But, as I’ve learned from experience, give me a good argument about a food’s health benefits and, while I may not swoon, I’ll certainly cheer.
Today, if you were to walk past my stock pot and glance inside, you might gasp at the beady little eyes staring back at you. But don’t worry, the only thing our fishy friend is going to do in there is make one of the best, nourishing stocks known to man.
Why Fish Head Stock?
Stocks in general are very healthy for you, but fish head stock sits a little higher on the pedestal. It’s the most nutritious, easiest on the budget, and holds claim to benefits other stocks can’t.
Like thyroid glands and iodine.
What Does The Thyroid Gland Do?
Not only is fish head stock rich in fat-soluble vitamins, it also contains the all-important thyroid gland. Basically, when you simmer a fish head the thyroid gland disintegrates and becomes part of your stock.
Thyroid glands supply the thyroid hormone whose main purpose in life is to run the body’s metabolism. This might not seem like much to get worked up about – until you don’t have enough of it.
Symptoms of Thyroid Deficiency
Most of us know someone affected by thyroid deficiency (hypothyroidism), and the havoc it can cause:
-abnormal menstrual cycles
-coarse, dry hair
-cold and flu symptoms
-cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
-dry, rough pale skin
-inability to concentrate
-irregular menstrual cycles
-muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
-weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
“Fish broth will cure anything.”
(South American proverb)
What’s the Big Deal about Iodine?
Iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism walk hand in hand. Iodine is required by the thyroid gland to produce various hormones (particularly those related to metabolism). So all of the symptoms listed above are related to iodine deficiency as well.
Iodine & Heart Disease
Iodine deficiency is also linked to heart disease and cancer. For instance, Japanese men have only 65% of the risk a man in the U.S. has of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk for a Japanese woman is 80% less than an American woman.
One of the biggest factors to this is diet. Japanese eat more seafood and far less grains than Americans do. Daily consumption of iodine is roughly 5,000 to 12,000 micrograms a day in Japan while here in the U.S. it’s only 125 to 250. That’s a BIG difference!
A Women’s Need For Iodine
Another place iodine concentration is found is the breast. The incident of breast cancer in the US is the highest in the world. Japan is one of the lowest. (International Agency for Research on Cancer)
Studies have shown that when iodine increases, breast cancer decreases. 3 to 5 milligrams daily can relieve the signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease in 70% of cases. In the 1960’s iodine consumption was double what it is today. Only 1 in 20 women developed breast cancer back then. Today it is 1 in 8.
Iodine also improves ovulation rates in cases of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOV).
Fish Stock = Gelatin
Add to all this the fact that fish stock also supplies gelatin and I might start a cheer:
“Fish head, fish head, you’re our man! If you can’t do it, no one can!”
Okay, fine. I was never a cheerleader. Something about really short skirts and having to stand in front of people. . .
Gelatin is a digestive aid. It’s been used successfully to treat intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis, and Crohn’s disease. It’s also being used to treat chronic disorders like anaemia (and other diseases of the blood), diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and cancer.
So now that you’ve stuck with me this long, you’re probably itching to get out your stock pot and find out how to make this medical marvel, right? I’m so glad you asked!
Fish Stock (casein-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free, yeast-free, anti-candida, low-carb)
*3-4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper (around here I find halibut at Whole Foods)
2 T. butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
several sprigs fresh thyme (I’ve used dried)
several sprigs parsley (I’ve used dried)
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3 qts. water
*Nourishing Traditions notes: Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce. Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market preboned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body. Classic cooking texts advise against using oily fish such as salmon for making broth, probably because highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process.
2. Add the fish carcasses (head and body) and cover with water. Add the vinegar and bring it to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Now you can go ahead and add the thyme and parsley to the pot.
3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours.
4. Strain the liquid and store in pint-sized jars or containers. Store in fridge or freezer. Be sure to label your stocks as they all look the same.
5. Pick the meat away from the bones (it will just fall off by this time) and refrigerate or freeze it to add to your soup later or use it like you would canned tuna fish.
This recipe is low-carb if you remove the vegetables rather than pureeing them in. Depending on what you put in your stock, the average net carbs is 1g – 2.5g per cup.
How Do I Use Fish Stock?
I like to heat up some stock, add some veggies and left over fish, and slurp it on a cold, winter day. (Slurping not required.) You can also warm it up and sip it from a mug since sipping is more dignified.
Recently, I’ve been using fish stock to make Homemade Ketchup. Any way you eat it, it’s going to give you health benefits that will make you want to wear pigtails and wave your pom-poms madly in the air.
And guess what? It’s not fishy at all – it’s DELICIOUS!
P.S. What’s in your stock pot? Or do you prefer chicken stock/broth?
Don’t know where to purchase some of these ingredients? Visit our Whole Food Sources page.
Shared with: It’s A Keeper, The Girl Creative, The Healthy Home Economist, The Prairie Homestead, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, Skip to My Lou, Simply Sugar & Gluten Free, Time-Warp Wife, Real Food Forager, Chef In Training, Rook No. 17, Celebrating Family, Far Above Rubies, Vintage Wannabee, Premeditated Leftovers, Women Living Well, Blue Cricket Designs, The King’s Court IV, Frugally Sustainable, The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Milk & Cuddles, We Are That Family, The Thrifty Home, This Chicks Cooks, Raising Homemakers, Tip Junkie, Juliecache, GNOWFGLINS, Greenbacks Gal, Raising Mighty Arrows, Our Simple Country Life, The Nourishing Gourmet, Food Renegade, Real Food Whole Health, Little Natural Cottage, Real Food Freaks, Comfy In The Kitchen, Country Momma Cooks, Nourishing Treasures, The Modest Mom, Flour Me With Love, Pain-Free Pregnancy, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Growing Home, Food Corner, The Nourishing Gourmet, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Farm, Young Living Oil Lady,
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