Cod, grouper, snapper and flounder are the best for this recipe, although trout also works, as does shrimp, lobster or crab shells (if using Dungeness rather than Blue Crabs, double the cooking time).  Salmon, sardines, tuna or bluefish should not be used, as they give the stock an unpleasant taste.  A little white wine is a common addition to the water, but not essential.


  • About 2 lbs. or 8 cups very fresh raw fish bones or crustacean shells
  • 4 quart cold water
  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 medium-size carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium-size lemons, halved
  • bouquet garni comprised of 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 10 black peppercorns, 3 sprigs of fresh parsley, all wrapped in a square of cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 teaspoons French sea salt


Place the fish bones with water (not the 4 quarts) to cover in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drain off the water in a colander. Rinse the bones well under cold running water, the put them back in the pot with the 4 quarts cold water and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let cool completely and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.