How To Make Fish Head Broth + A Recipe For Fish Head, Seaweed & Coconut Soup

by Michelle on May 28, 2012 · 18 comments

in Autumn,Healthy Dinner,Healthy Lunch,Meal,Paleo/Primal,Season

Hi Health Food Lovers! In this post I’m going to show you how to turn this (I know- it looks scary, but have no fear!)…:

….into something delicious, nourishing and tasty!

First step is to get some fish heads + frames. I got 3 salmon fish heads + frames from the Queen Vic Market for $5, which isn’t too bad! But for this recipe you will just need one fish head + frame. Making a soup fish heads and their frames can be a tasty way to get some of the all-important anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids (EFAs) EPA and DHA into your diet. These are the forms that are easiest for our bodies to use and require less transformation, whereas the vegetable forms (e.g. alpha linonelic acid) of EFAs need more nutrients to transform them into these forms which are most anti-inflammatory).

Other sources of the better forms of EFAs include: Sardines & Anchovies

Below: Sesame-Crusted Sardine, Fennel and Sweet Potato Cakes

Below: Tasty Anchovy, Kale and Lime Salad

Okay so when you are make the broth, and you have the fish head and carcass, you will first need to give the fish a good rinse under cold water (not warm otherwise it will start to cook it).  After you’ve given it a good rinse, you will need to remove the gills (which are located inside the head). They look like this (see the picture in the page).  Here is a great YouTube video on how to remove the gills. Now onto the fish stock/broth…

How To Make Fish Head + Frames Broth/Stock


  • 1 fish head and frame (prepared as noted above) (I used salmon)
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil/butter/ghee (or your favourite heat-stable oil for cooking)
  • water (ideally filtered)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional flavourings: a few pepper cloves, a bay leaf, a star anise
How to:
  1. First cut up the fish frame. I left the head whole and used a butcher knife to cut up the frame.
  2. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil and cook the fish head and frame in the oil for a few minutes.
  3. Now add in the water. I used about 10 Cups of filtered water. But you can use more or less, depending on how concentrated you would like it to be. Add any flavourings you would like to put in (optional).
  4. Put a lid on and let this boil for a minute or two, then turn the heat way down until the water is barley even moving. Let this cook for about half an hour or so. Keep an eye on the broth/stock and skim off any scum that floats to the top.
  5. Season your broth with a bit of salt and pepper and then leave it to cool down.
  6. Strain the broth through a strainer.
  7. Put the bones/meat into a clean separate bowl. With (washed) hands peel the meat from the frame and fish head. Add the meat back to the stock. Note: You can discard the bones and cartilage from the fish carcass, or keep them to freeze and make another stock at a later stage.
  8. Now you can use the broth/stock in miso soup, or in another soup recipe, like in the recipe that I have written below.
Storing the fish broth: the stock can be stored in the fridge in a closed (preferably glass) container for a day or 2, but I wouldn’t keep it any longer than that without it being frozen.
To freeze the fish broth: I divided the cooled broth & salmon meat into a few portions, put them in zip lock bags and froze them.
Now here is a delicious recipe that you can make with the fish head broth!

Salmon Head, Coconut and Seaweed Soup

Serves 1 (just double or triple the ingredients etc. for more serves).


  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. ginger, grated
  • ~1 or 2 C. of salmon broth & meat
  • enough for one serve: buckwheat noodles (best: go for 100% buckwheat noodles) or zucchini noodles or veggie noodles or kelp noodles or rice noodles
  • a strip of wakame seaweed, cut into small pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few tsp. of coconut milk, or to taste
  • a few tbsp. fresh coriander
  • a few slices of fresh chilli (optional)
How to:
  1. In a pot, boil the noodles of choice till soft. Then drain away the water and set the noodles aside.
  2. Heat the coconut oil and sauté onion, garlic and ginger. Add in the salmon broth and meat and bring to the boil for a few minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down add the seaweed pieces and add back the noodles to the pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk and serve with fresh coriander and chilli (optional). Note: This is quite a simple soup, so feel free to add any veggies that you like to the recipe.

I would love to know: Does this look scary to you? Is it something you think you may try? Please let me know in the comments below!


Health Food Lover is Michelle Robson-Garth. Michelle is a degree-qualified Naturopath (BHSc) and Massage Therapist. She is also a passionate writer, recipe-creator and all-round foodie from Melbourne, Australia. © Copyright: 2009-2012 Michelle Robson-Garth. Please ask permission first when using any text or images on Read the disclaimer here. Have a look at the recipe index for more health food lovin’ recipes. Join the Facebook page & follow Health Food Lover on twitter.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie @ Crest Cottage May 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm

My husband loves making whole sardines, but I wasn’t sure if I could use the head for stock. It seems like I can, so I will!



Michelle May 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Cool. I’d love to know how it goes!


Catie @ Head Plant Health June 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

Bizarre! I actually dreamt about making fish stock last night – the interconnected food-obsessed minds of naturopaths! And thanks for the sardine patty recipe; have been increasingly disenchanted with sardine salads, so this could rekindle the fire!


Michelle June 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

The crazy dreams we have as naturopaths! I hope you like the sardine recipe, Catie!


Anna June 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Looks fantastic, my boyfriend doesn’t eat meat and I was just discussing how good bone broths are for health this morning! I’ll have to give this one a try :)


Michelle June 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Please do, Anna. I’d love to know how it works out for you!


Organic Cafe Perth June 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Now I know how to make Fish Head + Frames Broth/Stock. That is because of you and your blog. It is easy-to-follow. Thanks.


RateMyFoods June 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

ooh, I like that. You have got my taste buds tingingling!


Kate June 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I love seafood! Can’t wait to try these healthy recipes instead of the usual fatty crumbed or battered fish.


Andrea December 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I made it with the head/skeleton of a golden trevally we had caught, filleted and eaten the previous day. Delicious, simple, nourishing and fresh! I added some spinich and lime juice. It’s such a nice way to reduce food waste.


Michelle December 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Hi Andrea. Thanks so much for trying this recipe. I’m so glad you liked it! I love how you added lime & spinach too- yum!


debby January 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

If you don’t want to use the bones for another batch of broth, they’re still useful: put some under plants in the spring, since they love the calcium (I’ve used fish bones and skin for this).


Michelle January 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Great idea Debby!


gemma February 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hi, I just made a salmon head broth, just decided to chuck the head in with aromatics, ginger, etc. but then halfway through I had a look at it and felt instinctively that I should have removed the gills. My gut feeling is that the gills may contain traces of toxins (worst case scenario) or at the very least, impair the flavour of the broth. Can you tell me more? I want to eat this broth but am a little worried about those gills now. :-/ thanks, Gemma.


Michelle February 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hi Gemma. Thanks for giving this recipe a go! Yep it is a good idea to remove the gills – I mention in the post where the gills are how to remove them. Here is a youtube video on doing so: However, I’m not sure about the gills containing any toxins, I think removing the gills makes it easier to prepare the fish after you’ve finished cooking. You can always cut the gills after cooking (once the salmon head has cooled down), so never fear :). Let me know how you go.


Karl June 19, 2016 at 11:05 am

I caught some small bluegill for bait left them in a container of water overnight and next morning the coons had eaten just the heads. I was wondering if the heads had more nutrition then the meat. Also there is a reference to fish heads in the movie Kill Bill. So I looked up fish head soup recipes on the net and found this site. I hope to try fish heads soon.


Paul February 17, 2020 at 1:09 am

Bit of a fisho myself and landed a 13kg Western Australian Dhufish a couple of days ago. Dhu fish chowder is quite popular here in WA restaurants. Surprising how hard it is to find info on this dish. In any-case thanks for the info on making the broth. Used the head and frame and ended up with a large amount of meat, and plenty of broth. Tomorrow I’ll finish the dish and I suspect it will be nice. I’ll follow up with my final recipie.
Thanks again


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