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Fish Head Stock ~ Recipe for Strong Digestion & Bones


I was apprehensive to make fish stock. I had a lot of experience making chicken, beef, and lamb stock – but not fish. I was worried that simmering fish bones in the kitchen would make the whole house smell and that alone would deter my family, including myself, from wanting to try it in the first place.

I knew about the benefits of drinking this golden liquid…that it strengthen bones and joints and helps to reverse tooth decay. I knew that fish stock is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods to eat and that it is great for the thyroid and eyes. It’s also good for healing the lining of the digestive tract. The kicker though was knowing this traditional food has been around for centuries and is highly revered in most parts of the world.

As many of my readers know, I have a thing for preparing and eating traditional foods such as milk kefir, fermented cod liver oil, unsalted cultured veggies, animal organs, and of course fish head stock. These are the kinds of foods that I like to give my attention to. To talk up. These are the foods that I bring into my kitchen and hope to make normal so that one day my kids will also think to give them to their own kids; my grandchildren. 

This, and more, is what propelled me to the fish market where I bought a pair of wild salmon heads for a good price and went back to my kitchen to cook them up. I was surprised to find that the smell was pleasant and the stock was just as savory as chicken stock with a delicacy all its own. Easy to make too ~ took me two hours from start to finish 😊 

Fish Head Stock 

Makes: about 5 cups


1-2  pounds of salmon fish heads

2-4 garlic cloves

1-2 bay leaves

1-2 Tbsp. ginger, thinly sliced


  1. Remove the gills from 1-2 lbs. of fish heads (Using a pair of kitchen shears, find the gills that are attached to the head on each end. Cut them at the joint where they attach and discard. If you skip this part the gills will give the broth a bad color and an off-taste). Here’s a tip…if you get your heads at a fish counter, ask them to remove the gills for you.
  2. Clean thoroughly with water.
  3. Place them in a soup pot with enough water to cover the heads by at least 1-inch.
  4. Add in 2-4 garlic cloves (peeled), 2 bay leaves, and 1-2 Tbs. of thinly sliced ginger.
  5. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. for 30 min.You want a very low simmer – it should only bubble slightly.
  6. Simmer for 30-45 min.
  7. Skim off any foam that may rise to the top.
  8. Strain through a couple layers of cheesecloth.
  9. Pick the meat and soft tissue off the bones (anything soft is edible, inc. eyes and brains).
  10. Return the meat and tissue to the stock.
  11. Store in fridge for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for several months.

Tips & Tricks

  • Add sauteed onions, garlic, leeks, or cabbage at any point while fish heads are cooking.
  • Add 1/2 a lemon in with the fish heads.
  • Substitute vegetable stock for fish stock in one of my favorite fish chowder recipes
  • Many people are squeamish about fish eyes. No need to be. They dissolve into the stock and you can discard what’s left afterwards if you want. The fatty tissue around the eyes is one of the richest sources of vitamin A in any animal’s body.
  • The head is the healthiest part of the fish to eat, but you can also add in the spine and other bones. 
  • Salmon heads give stock a strong flavor; if you want a milder flavor try halibut, bass, cod, or another white fish. You can use 1 type of fish, or a combo of different types.
  • Make sure not to cook fish stock for more than an hour as it may become bitter.
  • This is a safe recipe for stage 1 of The Body Ecology Diet (B.E.D.) when the focus is on healing the gut.
  • If you have leaky gut, Crohn’s, autism, ADD/ADHD, or suffer from seizures or tics than you’ll want to avoid long-cooked broths and stick to short-cooked stocks like this recipe. This is because free glutamates (i.e. glutamine, glutamic acid, and MSG) will increase the longer that you cook animal bones and these will only contribute to symptoms.

This recipe is from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel who claims that the best stock for bone and tooth decay reversal is made from the carcasses, heads, and organs of wild fish.


        My youngest son chowing on a salmon head.

Fish to Eat & Fish to Avoid

A Favorite Recipe for Fish Chowder

B.E.D. Nutritional Support with Tara (via phone or Skype)


Nagel, R. (2011). Cure Tooth Decay. Los Gatos, CA: Golden Child Publishing

Paula, CHS. (2012). Author of a website called Whole Intentions Fish Heads in My Stock Pot

Schuette, K. (2017). Stock vs. Broth – Are You Confused. Retrieved from

Worker Bee (2016). Fish Head Broth. Retrieved from Mark’s Daily Apple

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 May all bellies be happy!

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