5 Flavorsome Fish Stock Substitutes

Years ago, on my visit to the historic city of Marseille, I enjoyed bouillabaisse, a kind of fish soup. It was so delicious (and expensive) I wanted to know how to make it. So, I started working on it as soon as I had returned home. However, I found out that the neighborhood cat had drunk all the fish stock. So I had to make it with a fish stock substitute.

You may be wondering why I didn’t make the fish stock again. Well, for starters, fish stock is made from fish bones. Unlike fish broth which is made from meat, I didn’t have enough time to go to the fish market and do another fishbone haul. Nor did I have enough time to make the fish stock at the whim. My best bet was to use a suitable fish stock alternative.

Fish Stock Substitute

I did end up making and enjoying bouillabaisse. Although, it wasn’t as magical as the one I’d enjoyed in France. I still enjoyed the overall experience. Therefore, I decided to make a list of the best and easy fish stock substitutes for you to use in your recipes.

But first an overview about fish stocks:

How long does it take to make fish stock?

Fish stock is very easy to make. Depending on your recipe, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to make; however, it will take longer if you include the prep time for herbs and the fish.

What kind of fish bones is needed for the fish stock?

You can use any fish bones and heads for fish stock. However, make sure they are clean of any blood, slime, or gills. Because the presence of any of the three will impart a nasty taste to your stock and cloud it.

How can I make fish stock?

Follow the following recipe to enjoy the tastiest fish stock:

  1. First, take a stockpot. Sprinkle some olive oil in it and add peppercorns and fennel seeds. Make sure the heat is set to medium.
  2. Once the seeds start sizzling, add sliced leek (the white part only), celery, onion, and garlic. Saute it until the veggies turn soft. Remember not to color the vegetables.
  3. At this point, you have to add wine and halve it on high heat. However, you can also leave wine out completely. It won’t ruin the dish.
  4. Next, add the fish bones to the liquid. Be gentle, and don’t mix the bones too much or too vigorously as it will turn the stock cloudy.
  5. Now, add enough water to merge the bones in the water and then add Kombu.
  6. Bring the stock to a boil, skim off any scum. Once this is done, lower the heat and add bay leaves. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Finally, take the stock off the heat, add herbs of your choice, parsley, and lemon slices, and leave it to infuse for an extra 30 minutes.

Note: this fish stock recipe only indicates the procedure and ingredients used. It does not mention the precise amount of any ingredient used. Moreover, you can adjust the herbs and spices as per your taste. The important part is the procedure. Make sure to follow the recipe carefully.

How long does fresh fish stock last?

Fresh fish stock survives for about 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

How can I use my leftover fish stock?

Don’t know what to do with the leftover fish stock? There are numerous ways in which you can use leftover fish stock instead of throwing it away. I have written some of my favorite fish stock uses below:

  1. Make a fish stew with it.
  2. Simmer clams in it for a brand new and delicious dish.
  3. Use it in fisherman’s pie.
  4. Warm up your day with some spicy fish soup.
  5. Fish stock risotto is a must-try dish.
  6. Freeze it for later use.

Is fish stock beneficial for me?

“Fish stock can cure anything,” says a proverb from South America. This must give you a vague idea of how beneficial fish stock is. But, specifically, its benefits include:

  1. Fish stock is an excellent source of minerals such as iodine. Iodine helps alleviate several conditions such as goiter and low IQ.
  2. Our body needs calcium, and the fish stock has just that – in excess too.
  3. It is powerful brain food and boosts brain functioning and memory.
  4. It is a great source of Halal gelatin. Gelatin is beneficial for our health too, so it’s like a win-win situation.
  5. Fish stock is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. You can also have it instead of sports drinks.

What can I use in place of fish stock?

There are many substitutes for fish stock out there. However, my top five favorites are:

1. Shrimp Stock

My favorite substitute for the fish stock is shrimp stock, especially if you are a busybody like me. Shrimp stock only takes around 10 to 15 minutes to prepare at home. Furthermore, shrimps are easily available at most grocery stores and don’t cost too much. Really, what’s to complain about?

Fish Stock Substitutes - Shrimp Stock

This stock doesn’t taste a lot like fish. I notice it has a noticeable shrimpy flavor. However, its attention-grabbing bright yellow color makes up for any deficiency in taste. But, I wouldn’t fret much over it if I were you since it successfully evokes the taste of seas and oceans, which is more than enough.

Shrimp stock isn’t quite as healthy as fish stock. But it contains chitosan, a polysaccharide that is helpful against high cholesterol and obesity.


2. Crab Stock

If you are not a fan of shrimps, another fish stock you can try is crab stock. It carries the same seafood flavor. It is no secret that cabs are the most delicious seafood. They are used in a diverse set of dishes. Likewise, you can use its stock in a load of recipes too.

Fish Stock Substitutes - Crab Stock

Crab stock comes in a range of orange shades. It varies from dusky tones to rust-colored stock. The color of your stock depends upon the kind of crab you used to make it.

Crab stock is fairly easy to make. All you have to do is simmer the smashed crab shells and body with parsley, herbs, bay leaves, and any other spices that you enjoy.


3. Clam Juice

Another easy, popular, and delicious fish stock substitute is clam juice. You can make it at home or buy two or three bottles of it depending on how much you need.

Fish Stock Substitutes - Clam Juice

Moreover, you can boil the liquid with half a vegetable bouillon cube until a quarter of the stock has evaporated. This gives the stock a similar fish stock-like taste and consistency. Moreover, the liquid remains light and clear too.

You can use clam juice to enhance the taste of various foods such as chowders, sauces, soups, stews, and even other seafood dishes. It is even richer than fish stock. The salty and mineral-like flavor of clam juice evokes a very oceanic feeling. No wonder, so many cooks use it to top foods instead of fish stock. I would too.

Not many people care about taste. However, if appearance is a big part of your dish, you must use an appropriate substitute. Clam juice features a pale yellow color that is a lot like white wine. It isn’t colorless, but it’s certainly not overpowering. Thus, you can use it without worrying about ruining the color of your dish.


4. Chicken Stock

Do you want an easy-to-find and budget-friendly substitute for the fish stock? Well, you have the option of using canned and homemade chicken stock. Chicken broth is always available in grocery stores, and if you find your hometown grocery store closed, you can easily make it at home.

Fish Stock Substitutes - Chicken Stock

Chicken stock, just like clam juice, also has a pale yellow color. I personally find it a little bland. So you might want to use some spices, seeds, and herbs. Once you have seasoned it, it will be mildly flavorful and a fresh substitute for fish stock. Then, you can add it to soups, stews, sauces, and many side dishes.

I prefer homemade chicken stock over store-bought one. I find that it is richer and has a warmer color. You can also add a little fish soup to it to get a seafood-like flavor.


5. Meat Stock

If you’re allergic to seafood or just don’t like the taste, you can use meat stock instead of fish stock, such as beef stock. The taste of meat stock depends upon the meat you use. It has an extremely rich and distinctive flavor. It also elevates the taste of any dish you will add it to.

Fish Stock Substitutes - Meat Stock

Moreover, if you like rich brown color, choose beef stock.


Frequently Asked Question

What is fish stock also known as?
Fish stock is also known as fish fumet. It is a basic cooking skill. The point is to extract the fish flavors by simmering bones in spice-enhanced liquid. You can use herbs, lemon, and peppercorns to enhance its flavor.
What are the four types of stocks in cooking?
There are four types of stocks in cooking: 1. White stock (Fond Blanc) 2. Brown stock (Fond Brun) 3. Vegetable or neutral stock (Fond Maigre) 4. Fish Stock (Fume de Poisson).
Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish stock?
Yes, the oyster sauce can replace the fish stock in most recipes. You can use it in stir fry recipes. However, the oyster sauce is thick. So it is not suitable for dishes that require a thin consistency like fish sauce.


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