fish broth

Reduce Seafood Waste: Fish Broth Recipe

Craig McKnight continues to create tasty ways to reduce your food waste with seafood! Discover how to make a delicious fish broth from your typical fish leftovers.

If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ll know that I’m passionate about reducing food waste. It’s disgusting that we throw away a third of the food bought in the world, nearly all of which can be turned into healthy, delicious meals.

I’ve previously told you how you can make the most out of every part of the prawn, but did you know that you can do that with other types of fish too?

When people go to the supermarket or fishmongers to by their fish, they either ask the fishmonger for fillets or alternatively ask them to fillet the fish and leave the heads and bones with the fishmonger to dispose of.

All I can say is DON’T DO THIS! There is so much flavour that can be extracted from the head and bones. If you don’t feel confident in filleting the fish, ask your fishmonger to give you the heads and bones in a separate bag to take away. They’ll weigh the fish before filleting it, so, since you’re paying for it anyway, why not take it and make it into something delicious?

Firstly, I’ll show you how to make a fantastic fish broth from the bits that you’d normally throw away, and then a few ideas of how to use that broth to make a quick delicious midweek meal.

Fish Broth

Although at first sight, this recipe looks fiddly, the only time-consuming thing is preparing the ingredients. It may look scary at first sight, but I can guarantee that once you’ve prepared your own fish broth, you’ll never go near the supermarket stuff again!

The good thing about fish broth is that it is quick to prepare compared to chicken stock for example. Once you have the ingredients prepped, the cooking time is only twenty minutes. However, please only do this recipe with white-fleshed fish. Darker-fleshed and oily fish like mackerel and tuna, for example, give too much of a fishy flavour. What you want in your broth is a delicate taste, not pungent and fishy!

You’ll also see that I ask you to dice, rather than chop the vegetables. This is because the cooking time is very short, and by dicing the vegetables, you can get all of the flavours out of them very quickly!


Approx. 1kg of bones and heads of any white-fleshed fish
small knob of butter
1 onion, diced
1 medium leek, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ bulb fennel, diced (optional, but definitely worth including if you can find it locally)
2 ribs of celery, diced
250ml dry white wine
1 litre of water
2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs of tarragon
1 bay leaf
5 whole black peppercorns


  1. Wash the fish heads and bones before use. I know some people that soak them for an hour by covering them in cold water and adding two tablespoons of salt and then rinsing before use. I personally have not noticed any difference in the finished stock by the extra step of soaking. My broths have been fine as long as I have washed the bones and heads before use. However, if you want to, by all means, add this extra step!
  2. In a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and the butter over a medium to high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion, fennel, leek, celery, and garlic. Cook these, stirring often, until vegetables have softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in fish heads and bones. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol. Keep stirring, until it begins to steam.
  3. Add approximately a litre of water. It should just barely cover the heads and bones. If you need some more to cover them, please do, but you’ll only need a little more.
  4. Add the parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and peppercorns.
  5. Bring the liquid in the pan up to a very gentle simmer. Then lower the heat so that it is just below a simmer. You will see the occasional bubble. You don’t want it to boil as it will spoil the flavour.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes. If any scum appears on the surface, just remove it with a spoon and discard.
  7. After it has cooked for 20 minutes, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve into your chosen container. Fish broth can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 5 days, or if frozen, for up to 3 months.


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