INGREDIENTS for 2 quarts
4 pounds fish heads and bones*
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 leek quartered lengthwise and sliced
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 cups dry white wine
bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves or 1-8 inch fresh, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, 3 sprigs fresh parsley, 3 white peppercorns
Bring home the fish bones (they should be quite fresh and free at any wholesale-retail fish market) the day before making the stock. Rinse them off under cold running water, remove any blood from the spine, and snip off the gills. Lay the cleaned heads and bones in a five quart pot and cover them with cold water. Refrigerate the bones overnight changing the water two or three times until it remains clear. The next day, drain the fish.
Heat the corn oil in a heavy, nonreactive 8 quart pot. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and leeks slowly for 10 minutes, until they soften. Add the fish heads and bones, cover the pot and steam them with the vegetables for another 10 minutes, until they soften and begin to fall apart.
Cover the fish bones and vegetables with cool water by at least one inch and bring the liquid to a simmer. Skim the pot, add wine, and submerge the bouquet garni. Regulate the heat to simmer gently and let the stock cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes skimming as needed.
Strain the stock and refrigerate it. Remove any congealed fat, reduce the stock to two quarts and store as indicated in the brown and white stock recipes.
*Select bones of lean fish for stock that will have many applications. My favorites are red snapper, grouper, whitefish, and flounder. Use salmon or lake trout bones, shrimp and lobster shells when you want any one of their distinctive flavors to dominate a stock.