This is an old recipe. I cooked this when my daughters were still in grade school, and they hadn’t yet learned to appreciate fish head. So, every time we bought I whole fish, I’d cut off the head and cook it in such a way that they didn’t have to stare at fish eyes and lips.
But I never lied about which part of the fish they were eating. After a while, they discerned the difference of fish flesh that came from the head vis a vis flesh that came from other parts of the fish. And they realized why their mother has been eating fish head since childhood. In time, I was able to serve whole fish head in many ways.
When I was going through my hard drive and saw the photos for this soup, I debated whether there was any point in republishing the recipe. In the end, I realized that although whole fish head doesn’t intimidate my daughters anymore, there are still a lot of people who might learn to fully appreciate the wonderful textures of fish head if properly introduced.
Textures? Yes. There’s fish flesh similar — but more succulent — to what one gets from the fish body. There’s the gelatinous skin around the eyes and mouth. And then, the eyes with a texture all its own. If you’re a fan of beef bone marrow, the texture of fish eyes is quite similar but not exactly the same.
Start by making fish stock. You’ll get a rich and tasty stock with fish head because of all the bones in it. Just boil with salt, peppercorns, onion and garlic.
Strain the broth, discard the peppercorns, onion and garlic, and place the cooked fish head on a plate or shallow bowl to allow it to cool so you can pick all the delicious edible parts without hurting your fingers.
Next, the vegetables. In a clean pan, melt butter and saute chopped onion, carrot and celery until softened before adding potato cubes.
Pour in the strained broth and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through and soft, but not mushy. It takes about fifteen minutes. Use this time to debone the fish head. When the vegetables are done, pour in yogurt, add the deboned fish head and simmer for a few minutes. Adjust the seasonings, if needed, and your soup is ready to be served.
Full recipe below
Fish head, vegetables and yogurt chowder
- Place the fish, onion, garlic and peppercorns in a pan.
- Pour in about four cups of water. Add salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Strain the broth and cool the fish.
- Heat the butter, add the onion, carrot and celery; cook gently over medium heat for about two minutes.
- Add the potatoes.
- Pour in the broth. Season with pepper. Taste and if it needs more salt, add some. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pick the flesh, gelatinous skin and eyes (minus the eyeballs and the soft bone that surrounds them) from the cooked fish, and break into small pieces.
- When the vegetables are done, pour in the yogurt. Stir. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
- Add the fish, simmer for about two minutes, taste one last time and make adjustments if necessary.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve hot.