Use a court bouillon to poach your next catch using one of these recipes below. They are adapted from How to Cook Fish, a book published in 1908 by Myrtle Reed under the pen name of Olive Green. For tips on making court bouillon, see the article Court Bouillon and Fumet.

Spicy Court Bouillon with Peppers

Place a thick layer of sliced carrots and onion on the bottom of the fish poaching pan or kettle. Add a sliced lemon. Add fresh parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, six whole peppers (hot), and four whole cloves. Place the fish on top, and add a combination of water and white wine or water and lemon juice. Heat it slowly, poach, and let the fish cool in the court bouillon.

Court Bouillon with Sweet Peppers

Cut up a stalk of celery, a carrot, an onion, and a bell pepper. Lightly cook in a couple of tablespoons of butter until softened, and add eight cups of water, a bit of vinegar to taste, and the trimmings of your fish. Season with salt, pepper, one bay leaf, four cloves, and some fresh parsley. Boil for about ten minutes and let it cool before poaching your fish.

Court Bouillon with Onions, Parsley, Thyme, and Mace

Using a water and white wine mixture, add in a tablespoon of whole butter, a bunch of parsley, four small onions, a clove of garlic, a bunch of thyme, a bay leaf, one carrot, and a blade of mace. Bring to a boil, and let it cool before poaching your fish.

Court Bouillon with Tomatoes and Allspice

Cook one large roughly chopped onion in two tablespoons of butter until softened. Add in one cup of canned chopped tomatoes, and season with salt, pepper, allspice, and fresh parsley. Add in about a half to one cup of ketchup (to taste) and one cup of sliced carrot. Add in sufficient water to completely cover the fish.

Basic Court Bouillon and Fish Stock

Use one onion,  bay leaves, four whole cloves, a stalk of celery, two sprigs of parsley, and three quarts of cold water. Add in your fish trimmings, slowly simmer for two hours and season with salt and pepper. Strain, cool, and use.

Court Bouillon with Peppercorns

Chop one onion, one stalk of celery, and three sprigs of parsley. Cook them all in butter until soft, and add in salt to taste, six to twelve whole peppercorns, three whole cloves, a bay leave, and a water and vinegar combination. Boil for fifteen minutes, strain, and cool.  

Court Bouillon with Tarragon Vinegar and Herbs

Chop up a carrot and a large onion. Place in the pot. Add in three bay leaves, a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, and three tablespoons of tarragon vinegar. Add enough water to cover the fish.

Court Bouillon with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Cayenne

Chop up four ounces of bacon and an onion, and cook over medium heat until the bacon is cooked. Add in a can of chopped tomatoes, two cloves of chopped garlic, and season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt. Add in sufficient boiling water and boil for fifteen minutes. Cool before putting in the fish.

Spiced Court Bouillon

Use a half a carrot, half an onion, two cloves, three sprigs of parsley, three whole peppercorns, two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, a blade of mace, a bay leaf, one half teaspoon of sweet paprika, dash of celery salt, two quarts of water, and salt to taste. Boil for 10 minutes, and cool before using.

Rich Court Bouillon

Cook one chopped onion in two tablespoons of butter until softened. Add in a pinch of celery seed, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of ketchup, a half teaspoon of beef base, two quarts of water, two whole lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and cool before using.

Court Bouillon with Bouquet Garni

In four quarts of water, add one chopped onion, one sliced carrot, two tablespoons salt, tablespoon of pepper, two whole cloves, one tablespoon vinegar, juice from a half a lemon, and a bouquet garni with bay leaves and fresh sprigs of thyme and parsley. Boil softly for an hour, and cool completely before adding in the fish.

Renee Shelton enjoys writing about fish and testing recipes, and serves as webmaster for Dana Point Fish Company. When she’s not handling seafood or out fishing, she can be found in the bakeshop talking about pastry. Visit her at, or send her a message using the contact form above.