The great thing is there’s still plenty of good meat – and good flavor – to be had from a fish carcass like this. Whatever you do, don’t throw that away!
You can simmer it whole (or cut up… if you don’t have a big enough pot), head and all, to make a Tasty Fish Stock. Here’s how:
- Cover salmon carcass in water, plus two inches more
- Add 1 large onion, chopped
- Add 3 stalks celery, chopped
- Salt and pepper (to added after the stock is strained and cooled, to taste)
Simmer on the stove for at least two hours, until the skeleton is falling apart. Then let it cool and strain it through a colander to separate the stock from the bones and other solids. If you have the patience, pick through the leftovers and add any larger pieces of meat to the stock (careful to avoid adding any bones).
I like to use this stock to make Salmon Chowder:
- 8 cups salmon stock
- 4 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 2 large leeks (cleaned and coarsely chopped)
- 1.5 pound bones/skinless salmon fillet (cubed)
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Heat the stock until boiling, then add the potatoes and leeks and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the salmon cubes, and cook gently for 15 minutes more. Add the cream, and salt and pepper to taste, and gentle reheat to desired table temperature. The salmon cubes should be fully cooked, but not to the point of breaking up in the chowder.
You can also bake or even grill a fish carcass like this until it’s thoroughly cooked, and then picking the meat from the bones is pretty ease. These little pieces of meat are perfect for making your favorite recipe for salmon patties or a salmon loaf.
These same techniques can be used to get every bit of tasty goodness out of any type of fish carcass, not just salmon. If you don’t have a seafood market near you, ask the butcher at your regular grocery store if they ever have any fish leftover fish carcasses– many times they do, and sometimes they’ll even give you them for free!
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