Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fish Stock from Pole to Pot

We recently took a much needed vacation to regions South.  All the way to Key West, and beyond, as a matter of fact.  We spent an entire week in the Keys, just exploring and enjoying the sun.
On one of our excursions, my husband and I chartered a small fishing boat for two.  The captain was wonderful and took us all over the waters off of Islamorada to fish for Grey Snapper among the many Mangrove islands.

While we were out, near the end of the trip, we came across a shiver of Lemon Shark (doesn't that sound cool?).  We spent and hour or more just fishing for them.  My husband caught one and managed to reel it in...not an easy thing...they are so strong! He also came close to nabbing a Bull Shark!  That would have been amazing...and scary!!!

                    (please ignore the crazy-faced laughing...I was a little awe struck, lol.)

We had so much fun.  I personally think it was the best time of the entire trip!  In the end, we caught nine Grey Snapper and two catch and release Lemon Shark.

When we got back to the docks...
The birds hoping for a share of the loot at our Captain's slip.

...we waited for Captain Dave to bring our fish up for cleaning...

... which he graciously did for us with much skill.
That crazy pelican ruled the roost!  He was determined to keep all the other birds away!

These fellows were not easily deterred though!
When the Captain was done, I asked for the fish heads and the carcasses, so I could make some fish stock.  He said it was the first time he'd been asked and that it would make wonderful stock.  He makes it himself!

We kept our fish in a small cooler with dry ice for the trip back to the Midwest.  When we got home a few days later, we unpacked the cooler, which we padded with newspaper...

  ...threw the fillets in our home freezer...

 ...and got busy on the stock.

I used the recipe found in Nourishing Traditions, page 119, as a guideline for making my stock...

I had 9 Grey Snapper carcasses
4 T. organic butter
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 small-ish organic carrots
1/2 t. dried thyme
3 springs of fresh home grown parsley
2 fresh bay leaves
1 c. white wine
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
and 6 quarts purified water

Melt butter and saute the vegetables and herbs until tender, add wine, bring to a boil, add fish carcasses, water and vinegar.  Bring to boil again and skim scum.  Reduce heat and simmer for 4 hours, covered.

After 4 hours...

...all that's left is separating the bits from the broth by straining.

When all was said and done, I ended up with 8 quarts of beautiful fish stock, which I placed in containers varying in size from 1 c. to 1 pint for freezing...

At the stories are things you should know.  
1.  If you get out to the Florida Keys, find Bud n' Mary's, it's where you'll find fun!
2.  When you find Bud n' Mary's, find Capt. Dave Butler.  He was amazing.  He had so many tips and tricks he was willing to share, and as a newbie scaredy-cat, he never made me feel like one.  Like I mentioned earlier in the was the best part of the vacation.  Truly fun.  Thank you, Capt. Dave.

3.  Save your fish carcasses...the stock was amazing.  It was rich, gelatinous and full of incredible flavor.  So thank you, Sally Fallon Morrell, for the recipe help, and Capt. Dave, for the extra encouragement!

I hope, if nothing else, this has been an encouragement to step out beyond your comfort zones...both food-wise and fun-wise (I can't swim...terrified of the water!), it's where all the interesting things in life lay.  

Thank you Florida, for the break from winter...

Yep, this is what we came home to.
Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year,

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