As mentioned in ‘how to cook’, the best fish broth is made with lots of fish bones. And lots of meat on to it. The time of cooking is shorter than most for meat broths, but a slow simmer is appreciated for 1.5 hour. Do not make it too long as the fish meat may become chewy, and the bones could also disintegrate too much. After you cool it down, a good fish broth becomes a gel in the fridge. The gel point (the temperature where the gel becomes liquid again) of fish broth is lower than that of for example beef or pork. Therefore, some dishes where a fish broth gel is required will need to be served very cool, or sometimes can be spiked with some pork gelatin or a vegan alternative.

You will also notice fish oil on top. Due to the composition with many unsaturated fats, this fat may not solidify in the fridge. Treat it with care, it is very healthy, but can also easily oxidize.

the art of making fish broth

There is very little art in making this broth. Getting your hands on a fish head or sufficient bones from the fish monger is the most important task. Also, the broth flavor will be enhanced by using some smoked fish as well. In Europe that is a smoked mackerel, in Canada a smoked lake herring etc. Before the broth gets to simmer, remove scum as much as possible. this will improve clarity and a little bit the taste.

Special equipment

A large enough pan

a strainer

Fish broth ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Fish Broth

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 58 minutes
Course Staple ingredient
Cuisine American
Servings 12


what you need

  • 1 large fish head with spine and bones grouper, halibut, etc
  • 1 piece of smoked fish head of a smoked mackerel, or a smoked herring with bones
  • 4-5 qt water
  • 2-3 tbsp sea salt
  • pepper
  • small bunch thyme
  • 3 bay leaves


how to make the broth

  • Place the head and bones in a large enough pan
  • Cover the head and bones as much as possible with the water
  • Add salt
  • Bring slowly to a simmer; when observing scum and froth, remove it with a sieve or straining tool
  • Then add the other spices and herbs
  • Continue to simmer doe 1.5 h
  • Then take the pan off the fire and take out the bones and head from the pan and place on a cutting board or the like
  • Remove the good fish meat and reserve. Discard the rest
  • Strain the broth through a wide maze strainer
  • Place the fish meat back to the broth. Taste it and bring to taste with salt, a spoon of sugar (optional) and pepper,
  • Fish broth spoils quickly, especially in hot kitchens, and so refrigerate as soon as possible or freeze it in a a few Ziplock bags


Method: simmering
Food allergy & intolerance information: none
Keyword bones, Broth, fish bones, fish broth, fish head


Obviously, the type of fish will determine the taste. one could also deal with several fish-types or heads. A small part of oily fish usually impairs a great taste.

Also, the use of a small amount of smoked fish meat, imparts lots of fragrance and taste.

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