I’m BIG! on fish soup, I eat any version of it; clear or milky with fish slices, a dash of ginger, sometimes bitter gourd, with tofu and tomatoes, with noodles or rice – it’s all good.
Health wise, here’s why I’m a fish soup enthusiast! If you are looking for an affordable quick cooking stock – fish is the way to go, of late, the price of grass fed beef bones seem to be constantly on the rise.
Fish is simply brain food, high in DHA and EFA and omega-3 fatty acids these are very important nutrients for our body. Fish soup/stock is also full of gelatin (converted collagen from the fish) which helps nourish the digestive tract and also the largest organ in our body – our skin. And finally, there is a possibility that the thyroid gland in the fish head, can help with thyroid support once simmered into the fish soup.
If thyroid support is one of your concerns, you can read more about this in the book, Finally The Truth About Women’s Health Care, by Kathy Smiley. She outlines one of Dr. Royal Lee’s theories, on thyroid replacement therapy – he had hypothesised that; one way of treating an under functioning thyroid is to consume the parts of the animal that corresponds to the compromised organs/glands. The nutrition in the organs/glands once taken, will go to the corresponding parts and give renewed energy and function to the body.
Mastering the cook of a glorious fish soup, takes some work – so let’s get to it! The end reward is so satisfyingly good; this creamy collagen rich fish soup is brain and skin food, remember not to add in any dairy milk for colour or extra flavour! You won’t need to because I’m sharing with you the secret of getting a perfectly milky soup – it lies in the treatment of the fish bones and heat control during the cooking process.
Washed fish bones! Make sure no blood stains remain for a beautiful stock…
Flour and season your fish bones carcass
Fry up your ginger slices till ohh so fragrant!
Add in your fish carcass
For even browning make sure you turn your fish, don’t get lazy now…
Add your water at this point
Add in dried anchovies, peeled garlic, sliced onions now
Prepare your other ingredients
Make your fried shallots and shallot oil
After the 1.5 hours of cooking sieve out the fish carcass and other ingredients to get your creamy collagen fish stock
Slice and marinate your fish
Cook your fish in small portions please
Cooked fish should be firm and in neat stacks, if it’s separated into many little pieces it’s been in hot soup for too long!
Show us your creamy collagen fish soup at #taystesg
Creamy Collagen Fish Soup
500g of fish bone carcass including fish head
fish bone carcass seasoning: generous sprinkle of plain flour (choose rice flour if you have gluten sensitivities) and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper
1.5 litres water
300g – 400g fresh fish fillet sliced (your pick of: threadfin/batang/ red grouper/barramundi)
fish slice marinade: 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda, a large pinch of sea salt, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
flavouring ingredients: 6 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, 6 slices of old ginger, 1 quartered sliced onion, 9 pieces of peeled garlic, 1/2 cup japanese unsalted dried anchovies
other additions: 1 bunch vegetables (your pick of – chye sim/bok choy/bitter gourd/salted vegetables), 1/2 box firm tofu, 1 tomato
optional carbs: thick rice noodles or steamed white rice
garnishes: fried shallots, shallot oil, a drizzle of sesame oil, spring onions or chinese coriander
Cooking the fish soup
Get the freshest fish (some options are: threadfin…my choice!, batang, red grouper, barramundi) and the best quality fish bones you can get your hands on. The best places to get fish bones are from your local fish monger or nearby supermarket.
Rinse your fish bones with water, before you start cooking them.
Flour the fish and season with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper.
Heat a heavy bottomed stock pot with medium fire, add grapeseed oil, and fry your ginger slices till fragrant!
Add your floured and seasoned fish bones to the pot.
Caramelise your fish bones, turn to make sure browning is even, this may take a while. Don’t give up…it’s important for the flavour of the soup stock!
Add your water till it covers the fish bones. Add the other flavouring ingredients; small dried anchovies, peeled garlic pieces and sliced onion. I used unsalted Japanese dried baby anchovies bought from the dried goods section in the local chinatown market.
Turn up the heat. Boil for 1.5 hours on medium high heat, it should be a rolling boil and not a slow simmer to get your soup to a milky, creamy colour. Keep topping up with water during the cooking process, if the soup stock reduces so much that you can clearly see the fish carcass. The soup quantity should just cover the fish bone carcass.
As the soup is cooking in the 1.5 hours prep the below:
Marinate your fish slices – give your fish slices a gentle massage with ingredients in fish slice marinade (sodium bicarbonate, sea salt and sesame oil). Sodium bicarbonate gives the fish a slightly smoother texture.
Precook your vegetables, tofu and noodles – slice your bok choy, choy sum and tomatoes or whatever greens you will be using. Divide your tofu into squares. Portion out your noodles. Parboil each ingredient separately in hot water and distribute into serving bowls, set aside.
Optional step: Make your own shallot oil and fried shallots – slice raw shallots thinly (I used a small mandoline for even slices), squeeze out moisture in the raw shallots with a kitchen towel, sprinkle a little salt onto the dry shallots and shallow fry in heated oil on low fire till shallots turn golden brown. Separate fried shallots from shallot oil. Reserve for garnish later.
Once soup has been cooked for the 1.5 hours, using a metal sieve remove any fish bones, baby fish anchovies and other flavouring ingredients in the stock.
Cook sliced fish pieces in the remaining soup stock, do the cooking in small portions to preserve the delicate pieces of the fish. Portion the cooked fish slices into your prepared serving bowls.
Season fish soup with salt to your taste, ladle steaming hot fish soup into your prepared bowls complete with your vegetables, tofu and tomatoes. Garnish with fried shallots, shallot oil and green onions/chinese coriander. Serve!
To see how fresh your fish is look at the quality of the eyes (are they bright or sunken?) and the gills inside the head (are they blood red or dark?). Bright eyes and blood red gills are good signs the fish is fresh!
For larger parties or families, this recipe can be easily doubled.
If you wish to cook fish stock in advance and store it in the freezer for a quick fish soup or other seafood based dishes, the stock will keep for up to 3 months in the deep freezer.