A perfect shellfish or fish stock

You can find powered fish stock in supermarkets or fish stores. This does fine in a pinch and I often use it. But, when I have a little time I make my own stock and freeze it to use later. It gives something more to many sauces, soups, pastas and sauces. It couldn’t be simpler, just takes a little time.

When I get crabs or lobsters I save the water I use to boil them in. I add all the shells and guts of the shellfish to the pot. From there I just boil the heck out it for about 30 minutes, stirring and crushing shells with a spoon as the process goes on. I reduce heat to a low simmer and let it go for a couple of hours. Then I just strain it. It is ready for cooking or to freeze. No salt or herbs are needed as you will add that with each new recipe.


Fish stock is pretty much the same. When I get a whole fish and fillet it, I don’t throw away the bones and the heads. They are filled with flavor. Sometimes I even ask the fishmonger for extra bones and heads. Most of the time they will give them to you, for salmon and bass heads, you might pay a bit for them.


  • 1 or 2 crab shells, or fish bones and heads
  • 1 Tbsp of peppercorns
  • 3 to 4  bay leaves
  • a pinch of kosher salt


  1. Fill a pasta pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Add fish bones and heads, 3 or 4 bay leaves, a tablespoon of kosher salt and some peppercorns. 
  3. After about 30 minutes the heads should be falling apart and any flesh should be cleaned from the bones. 
  4. Break it all up with a spoon and simmer for another hour. 
  5. Strain, pressing down on the fishy parts to get out all the juices. 
  6. Put the strained fish broth back in the pot and reduce it by half again to get a good concentrated stock. 
  7. It is ready to be used for cooking or freezing.