Fish Stock/Broth (Yu Tang 鱼汤)
April 23, 2022  Print
I wanted to post a few fish-centered traditional Chinese recipes, like Pickled Mustard Fish (酸菜鱼), Sichuan Boiled Fish (水煮鱼), etc., but I realized that most of these recipes require a basic fish stock/broth to capture the full flavor of the dish. So here is my basic recipe for fish stock.
This is probably the simplest fish stock/broth recipe and it’s made from scratch. And it doesn’t break the bank at all. You don’t need fancy fish for this recipe. In many Asian countries, you can buy a large river fish and ask the seafood seller to de-bone and fillet it at the market. Then the seller will cut the bones into a few large chunks to be used for fish stock/broth purposes. The fillets can be made into many different fish dishes.
But here in the US, we don’t have that luxury. It’s not that easy to find a suitable fish and to have a skilled seller fillet it. I’ve tried asking for such a service a few times at different Asian markets. The results were mediocre at best. The fillet often had many small bones leftover inside, so I had to spend extra time picking them out before cooking for my family.
So I came up with what I think is the best solution. I usually get a pack of whole tilapia from Costco, which costs a little more than $2 dollars per fish. I freeze the tilapia in my refrigerator right after I buy it. Every time I need to make the fish stock/broth, I can defrost a fish the night before and cut them into large chunks to make the broth. Then I buy the skin-on fish fillets from my local grocery store and cut them into thin slices. I can then use the fillets in combination with the fish broth/stock. The results have been quite superb and consistent.
You can also just drink the fish broth/stock like a soup after adding some salt and green onions. The broth/stock tastes pretty good on its own. Many Chinese women will drink this fish broth/stock during the first month after labor to help with recovery and also to boost breast milk production.
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6 people
- 1 small to medium whole tilapia fish or fish bones from a large fish 1
- 1 1-inch long piece of ginger
- 2 green onions
- 1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- hot water
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Wash the whole tilapia thoroughly. Remove the fish scales, if any. Cut the tilapia into 4 to 5 large chunks. Put the tilapia chunks (including the head) into a mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of Chinese Shaoxing wine and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, rubbing gently. Let the fish marinate for 15 minutes on the counter.
- While the fish marinates, prepare the other ingredients. Peel the ginger and cut it into slices. Cut the green onions into large pieces.
- When the fish chunks are done marinating, heat a large wok (or a dutch oven) under high heat. When the wok is hot, add the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, swirling it around the wok for a bit. Then add the ginger slices and green onion pieces. Let the aromatics cook for about half a minute before adding the fish.
- Add the fish. Leave all the fish chunks undisturbed in the wok to brown for 2 minutes before turning them over to the other side. Do not worry if the skin sticks to the side of wok. Once both sides of the fish chunks are browned, pour in a good amount of hot water (make sure it’s hot) so all the fish pieces are fully immersed. If the liquid is not bubbling immediately, wait until it bubbles. Then cover the lid and lower the heat to low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid turns into a creamy white color. Use a colander to filter out all the solids, leaving only the stock/broth. Use it right away or store in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. Can also be stored in a freezer for up to 1 month.
- I used tilapia fish to make this recipe. Like I mentioned in my intro, I often buy a pack of tilapia (whole fish) from Costco and freeze them immediately. I can then defrost one the night before making this fish stock/broth. But you can use any small or medium fish to make this stock/broth. I just find tilapia to be the best choice overall for me in terms of flavor and economical value. If you can get a skilled seafood seller to fillet a fish for you, save the bones to make this broth/stock. I will post recipes that use the fillets in the next few weeks. That’s how people in Asia make fish dishes traditionally.
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