Making incredible fish stock is all about using a light hand. You don’t want to boil or simmer for too long—just long enough for the meat to poach and the best notes of fish flavor make their way into the stock. This one takes advantage of sweet red snapper, but you can ask your fishmonger for any sweet, mild fish heads he or she may have available. Use this stock to bring seafood risotto to life, or as the base for a fragrant fish chowder.
- Heat a heavy (4-5 quart) pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, and allow to heat for about 1 minute.
- Add the scallions, seasoning with a pinch of kosher salt. Let them cook for about 1 minute, until charred on one side, and flip them over with a pair of tongs.
- Remove from heat, and add the garlic, peppercorns, salt, and 3 quarts of cold water. Add the fish head, and turn the burner back on to medium heat.
- As soon as the liquid reaches a simmer (don't let it boil), turn the heat to the lowest setting, and allow the stock to simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and pull out the fish head. Feel free to snack on the poached fish meat. Strain the rest of the solids out of the stock, allow to cool slightly, and transfer the stock to plastic containers to keep in your freezer or refrigerator.
Anna Hezel is the former senior editor of TASTE.