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Fish Tail Soup

This one's for Shauna, just because she's making soup and I really want an excuse to use this photo. I've been collecting things in the freezer lately and needed to clear out some space so I thought I'd start with the largest single item I could lay my hands on: the remnants of a 40 pound sturgeon. I made a very simple fish stock, partially because it offers the widest range of options if it's made without lots of additional flavors and partially because I had a lame selection of vegetables in the house. This will end up as the base for some sort of fish stew shortly.



  1. Take one sturgeon, butcher, toss head and tail in garbage bag and freeze.
  2. Remove from freezer and realize that it's huge and won't fit into any reasonable sized pot.
  3. Sigh deeply and pull out canning pot.
  4. Fill with gallons of water because the fish must be at least mostly covered.
  5. Add fish parts, leeks, onion, bay, thyme, lovage and salt.
  6. Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally while trying not to notice the fish's baleful stare from its watery grave. (be glad I am only posting a picture of the tail)
  7. Shudder.
  8. Strain liquid into largest stockpot in house.
  9. Grab second stockpot because first is aboout to overflow.
  10. Search desperately for bag to hold the now disintegrating fish head and tail.
  11. Stick bag with fish in canning pot and slap lid on quickly in futile hope of containing the smell just a bit.
  12. Realize that everything will actually fit into one pot. Add second (or is that third) stockpot to ever-growing pile on counter.
  13. Simmer stock to reduce to some reasonable quantity, thereby releasing approximately a gallon and a half of highly aromatic fish-water into in-house atmosphere.
  14. Look at clock, realize it's closer to dawn than midnight, turn up heat on stock, enhancing the olfactory experience.
  15. Open kitchen window to vent smell, while turning off kitchen lights so the flying things that are smaller than the screen won't get any bright ideas. turn up heat some more.
  16. Decide that this is going to take longer than it seems like it should. Prepare ice water bath for stock, making as much noise as possible in the process so as to annoy the sleeping person.
  17. Cool stock and stick it in fridge to deal with in the morning in hopes that the oil on top will solidify a bit and make it easier to skim. (note to self: fish oil is liquid at pretty much any temperature you can hope to produce in the typical kitchen)
  18. Fall into bed in total exhaustion just as the dawn light begins twinkling in the eastern sky.
  19. Next morning, decide to get started on cleaning while water is on to boil for first cup of tea and remove lid from canning pot, totally forgetting about the fish that's been in it at room temperature for the last 12 hours.
  20., really shudder...

(this recipe has been included in And They Cook, Too, a fundraising cookbook for Doctors Without Borders...check it out for both recipes and amusement...)

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