Homemade fish stock is inexpensive to provision for, and a breeze to make. I have never found a stock cube that comes anywhere near its memorable flavours, and given that a carefully built stock is an essential component in the sauces and soups of so many cuisines – be they French, Italian, Nordic or Thai – it makes sense to embed it into your basic kitchen repertoire. Once there, the undisguised flavours will reward you always.

You will see from other posts that I am happy making stocks, and nothing makes me happier in my kitchen than constructing a fresh fish stock. It is reassuring to set down a bag full of bones and heads of non-oily fish, or the discarded shells of prawns and crabs, bring a pan of clear water to a simmer, and with the addition of a simple vegetable selection; begin the process of transforming detritus into delicious broth. Making friends with your fishmonger (if you still have one within reach) is an advantageous social skill to employ here for the odd bag of filleted off-cuts.

Given that we in the British Isles manage to tip a third of our purchased food into landfill sites, there is something of the warm glow of piety in repurposing what would otherwise become rotting leachate seeping gently back into our streams. Saintliness combined with sumptuous flavours, contribute to a fine homemade repast.

Most recipe books tend to concur on the route to a classic fish stock, which is less common than you may imagine, but I have selected this reliable standby from J.Sheekey. Fish (2012) Allan Jenkins and Tim Hughes.

Fish Stock [Fumet de Poisson]

Yields approximately 2 litres of stock

4 kg white fish bones and heads
1 leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 head of celery, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
10 black peppercorns
Few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
125 ml dry white wine
2.4 litres water
1 lemon, thickly sliced
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash fish bones in cold water
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat a splash of oil and lightly cook the onion, leek, celery, fennel seeds, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf, without allowing them to colour
After 5 minutes, add fish bones and wine
Bring to the boil and reduce by half
Add the water, bring to the boil again, occasionally skimming off any scum that forms
Simmer gently for 20 minutes
Remove from the heat, add lemon and parsley and leave to infuse for 20 minutes
Strain everything through a sieve and check seasoning
The stock will keep in the fridge for 5 days or you can freeze it in small batches until required