Florida bluegill are a very common fish to catch. They are found in fresh water lakes and grow to about 10 inches in length. On occasion a fisherman gets lucky and catches the larger sized specimens which can grow to be as large as a dinner plate. A few weeks ago I was one of those lucky fisherman and caught nine of them. I rarely get the chance to catch a bluegill large enough to filet, let alone nine of them. I was thrilled to have a couple of pounds of filets, but was left with a pile of backbones and heads so decided to make fish broth.
Fish stock cooked in an Instant Pot is amazing, but just make sure to include the heads because it really improves the flavor and nutritional value of the broth.
If you’ve ever made chicken broth then you are already aware of the basics. Making any kind of broth or stock basically entails the long, slow, cooking of meat and bones in water. Some chefs add carrots, celery and onion for added flavor and nutrition, but doing so is not necessary for a rich, flavorful, broth. Meat stock is an ancient food and very nutritious in and of itself without added vegetables, but they do add another layer of flavor.
Herbs are also a personal preference. Some people, myself included, like to season with thyme. Some people choose whichever herbal flavor they enjoy. The only caution is with rosemary because it gets stronger the longer it is cooked so it’s best to add it once the broth is done.
I start my broth by filling my Instant Pot with fish parts, a handful of celery and carrots, and a teaspoon of dried thyme. I, unfortunately, can’t include onions because of autoimmune issues, but many people consider them essential. Just about any variation can be made by adding or subtracting ingredients according to your tastes. Then add ten cups of filtered water or up to the fill line of your cooking vessel.
Set the Instant Pot to 120 minutes, high pressure, set on the Soup setting. This is how I set it up to cook chicken or beef broth and it works great every time. When the cooking time elapses, I allow the pressure to do a natural rather than fast release. This of course takes a bit of extra time. Whichever you prefer is no doubt going to be fine.
Once the pressure is released and you can open the pot, strain your Florida fish broth and put it into containers for later use. Unlike other broths, there won’t be any discernible bones to pull meat off of, however, If you want a crystal clear broth you should use a piece of cheese cloth in addition to your strainer to remove as much solid matter as possible.
Any freezer container will do and I usually use the ones sized 1-2 cups. It really depends on how you will be using the stock whether adding flavor to soups or gravies, or my favorite use; adding to Thai curry soup and clam chowder. Some people even use ice cube trays as they only want a few tablespoons of goodness to finish a sauce or flavor a bloody mary. I occasionally drink straight fish broth for a nutritional kick, so for me, about a two cup container is just right.
I hope you get the chance to make Florida fish broth after a rewarding day of fishing and experience this glorious, golden, and healthy food.