How many times have you made a pot of delicious soup, taken a bite, and spat it right out?

I’ve done it so many times- even using Waitrose stock- that I’ve given up on making my own soup and just dial Deliveroo these days. Luckily for my bank account, the tour of Billingsgate was followed by a cooking session with CJ of Billingsgate Seafood Training School. CJ has had a very interesting life! She worked in Perth & even in Singapore, overseeing Crabtree & Evelyn’s afternoon tea at Alkaff Mansion. It’s always nice to meet someone who’s familiar with your home 🙂


Here are her top tips for whipping up a fabulous fish stock:



1 NEVER add salt until the very end

No wonder my concoctions were so bland! I’d always assumed that they already had salt in them, and in an attempt to be healthy, refrained from adding more.



Soondubu jjigae or tofu stew- my favourite soup. I tried making it once. Never again… But maybe I’ll get the knack of it with these tips! 🙂

2. Don’t let it boil!

Simmer, simmer and more simmer.


3. Short & sweet

Contrary to your instincts, longer is not better and 20 minutes is just perfect. If you cook the stock for too long, everything will break down, you won’t get a nice, clear stock and it will be bitter.
To give the flavour a boost, reduce it after your done (i.e. boil after you strain out the solid ingredients) or add more bones.


Note: some chefs disagree with this French tradition and feel that using the bones of non-flatfish allows for longer cooking time. I will need to do an experiment on this!



Chinese people love cooking their stock for, like, forever- I spent 24 hours boiling this chicken stock! Mmmmmm….

4. Clean thoroughly

Resist your thrifting impulses to save every single bit of the fish and ditch the blood & guts as this makes the stock bitter.


5, It’s all about the basics

Bones + water + fish bones & head + celery + onion + carrot + aromatics (parsley, bay, thyme, peppercorns)



We used our fish stock to make bouillabaisse. It tasted amazing. Now I can save the €60 they charge in Marseille for a bowl! 🙂


Written by Zen