How to Make Fish Stock (Fumet)

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Last Updated on March 25, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

Fish stock, also known as fumet when it’s concentrated, is one of the fastest, freshest, and most fragrant stocks available. It is also incredibly resourceful, sustainable, and fulfilling to use every part of the animal you are eating.

Making a large batch and portioning it out to freeze is a smart idea for stocks in general. It is so you always have some on hand. The recipe below makes a large quantity, but if you want to prepare a smaller quantity to use right away, you can reduce the number of ingredients needed.

Bones for Fish Stock

Ask your fishmonger for a kilo of bones if you aren’t utilizing the extra bones from fish you’ve filleted yourself; they will be extremely affordable (or maybe even free). Keep in mind to only use white fish bones; flatfish, bass, and cod are suitable options. Mackerel or tuna bones are too fatty, and this will cause your stock to become unpleasant and greasy.

The bones of the fish must also be free of any blood and gills because these will give your stock a bad flavor and cloud it. Moreover, make sure to fully clean fish heads before adding them to your stock (always remove the gills).

The fish head gives a lot of flavors, and it contains a lot of gelatine which adds body to your stock. Running the bones under cold tap water, and letting them soak in the water for a while will help clean them. This allows the contaminants to float to the top, which you can then skim and discard.

Vegetables and Aromatics for Fish Stock

Fennel, celery, and aniseed herbs like tarragon and dill are the traditional vegetables and herbs used to fish stock. Typically, carrots are avoided because they discolor the stock. Chop the vegetables finely, so that when you fry them, they have a bigger surface area and may release more flavor. Then, you can add a sheet of kombu seaweed for more umami and a genuine taste of the sea.


When seasoning fish stock, use caution. If you plan to reduce it down for a sauce, do not add salt until right at the end since the saltiness will grow and could become too strong. However, season as usual if you’re using the stock right away without reducing.

Fish Stock Recipe

This recipe yields approximately 1 liter of stock.


1kg fish bones, chopped down into 5cm pieces and cleaned
1 leek, white parts only, chopped
1/2 fennel, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 garlic bulb
500ml of white wine
6 white peppercorns, (you can also use pink peppercorns for a more floral flavor)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 sheet of kombu, (optional)
2 bay leaves
parsley stalks
1 handful of dill
1 handful of tarragon
2 slices of lemon


  1. First, add a drizzle of olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat, then add the fennel seeds and peppercorns.
  2. When the seeds are sizzling, add the sliced leek, fennel, celery, onion, and garlic, and gently cook, being careful to simply soften and not color the vegetables.
  3. Next, add the wine, and cut the amount in half.
  4. Add the fish bones into the pan. Once the bones are added, take care not to stir the stock too much because doing so will cause the stock to become cloudy.
  5. Then, add the kombu after adding just enough water to cover the bones.
  6. After bringing the stock to a boil, skim off the foam, reduce the heat, and add the bay leaves. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat. Then, add the parsley stalks, herbs, and lemon slices. Cover with cling film, and let the mixture infuse for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Scoop the stock out with a ladle, and strain it through a muslin-lined sieve into a container. Once more, be delicate and avoid disturbing the bones to avoid having a cloudy stock.
  9. The stock can be kept in the freezer for up to three months, or kept for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

How to Use Fish Stock When Cooking

Many of the best seafood recipes, like the renowned French king of soups, bouillabaisse, creamy smoked haddock chowder, seafood paellas, or a well-spiced kedgeree, depend on high-quality fish stock. It can also be used as a base for sauces. For a silky fish velouté that will elevate your fish pie, whisk stock into a boiling roux of flour and butter. Fish velouté, one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine, serves as the foundation for several “daughter sauces,” like the sauce Bercy, which is flavored with white wine, lemon, and fresh parsley. Sauce Normande, which is an enriched fish velouté with egg yolks, butter, and cream, is a well-loved accompaniment to mussels.

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