Court Bouillon

A court bouillon is a water or liquid that is flavored with seasonings and/or herbs, an acid, and sometimes vegetables. It is used to poach fish. The choices of each ingredient will depend on the resulting flavors of the item being cooked. A basic ratio is for each quart of water, add in 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar.

Seasonings

  • Seasonings and herbs can be salt, pepper, peppercorns, thyme, anise seeds, fennel seeds, parsley, bay leaves, chives, star anise, caraway seeds, etc. The use of sachet or bouquet garni is helpful when removing them when the court bouillon is finished.
    • Sachet

      • A bag of spices, tied in cheesecloth. Spices and herbs can include: peppercorns, fresh parsley stems, whole clove, bay leaf, smashed garlic clove.
      • A basic sachet assembly: Assemble your desired flavoring ingredients and place in the center of a piece of cut cheesecloth, about a 3 to 5 inch square piece depending on the size needed. Gather up the corners and sides and tie with piece of kitchen twine, allowing a long piece of the twine to remain (do not trim); this can be tied to the handle or left out of the top of the pot for easy removal. A basic sachet assembly: Assemble your desired flavoring ingredients and place in the center of a piece of cut cheesecloth, about a 3 to 5 inch square piece depending on the size needed. Gather up the corners and sides and tie with piece of kitchen twine, allowing a long piece of the twine to remain (do not trim); this can be tied to the handle or left out of the top of the pot for easy removal.
    • Bouquet Garni

      • Fresh herbs and flavorings tied together, at the stems usually, such as parsley thyme, savory, sage, celery leaves, leek leaves, etc.
      • A basic bouquet garni assembly: Assemble your desired flavoring ingredients and tie together, allowing a long piece of the kitchen twine used to remain (do not trim); this can be tied to the handle or left out of the top of the pot for easy removal. Sandwiching the herbs between the larger ingredients (such as celery stalks, onion or leek halves) can make the tying easier and more secure.

Acids

  • An acid can be wine, lemon juice, or vinegar.

Vegetables

  • The vegetables can be onions, carrots, celery, shallots, celery leaves, fennel stalks, green onions, leeks, mushrooms, garlic, etc. These are often coined ‘aromatics.’

Court Bouillon Recipes

Basic Court Bouillon
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup carrots, diced
  2. 1/3 cup onion, diced
  3. 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  4. 2 sprigs parsley
  5. 2 tablespoons butter
  6. 2 quarts water
  7. 2 tablespoons salt (or to taste)
  8. 2 tablespoons vinegar
Sachet
  1. 6 whole black peppercorns
  2. 2 whole cloves
  3. 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Lightly brown the vegetables in the butter over medium heat. Add in the water, the sachet, and the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.
Dana Point Fish Company http://www.danapointfishcompany.com/
Court Bouillon with White Wine Vinegar
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts water
  2. 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  3. 2 stalks celery, chopped
  4. 2 carrots, chopped
  5. 1 large onion, chopped
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 2 teaspoons dill weed
  8. 8 black peppercorns
  9. 1 tablespoon salt
Instructions
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stock pot.
  2. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook slowly for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain.
Dana Point Fish Company http://www.danapointfishcompany.com/
White Court Bouillon
This milk based white court bouillon recipe helps to keep white meat fish at its whitest.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 quart water
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. 1 tablespoon salt
  4. Juice of half a lemon
Instructions
  1. Place fish to be poaching pan with the cold water, milk, lemon juice, and salt (do not preheat before poaching.
  2. Bring to a poaching temperature, and poach fish until done.
Dana Point Fish Company http://www.danapointfishcompany.com/

Fumet

A fumet is a flavorful fish stock. Leftover poaching liquid is a great base for a fumet.

Fumet (Fish Stock)
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To each quart of water or prepared court bouillon, add
  1. 1 pound fish trimmings or bones of lean fish
  2. Aromatic ingredients (for additional flavor: onion, celery, leeks, carrots, shallots, mushrooms, etc.)
  3. Splash of dry white wine
  4. Seasonings (if dry place in a sachet, if fresh, tie up as a bouquet garni)
Instructions
  1. Place desired aromatic vegetables in bottom of buttered heavy pot. Place leftover or reserved bones from filleting (lean fish) on top and cover loosely.
  2. Set over low heat and cook slowly 5 minutes or so until the bones are opaque and some juices are released. Add water or court bouillon, dry white wine, and chosen seasonings and flavorings in a sachet and/or bouquet garni (for easy removal of flavorings and seasonings).
  3. Bring to low simmer, skim as needed, and allow to cook for up to 45 minutes.
  4. Strain and cool properly.
Dana Point Fish Company http://www.danapointfishcompany.com/
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 pastrysampler.com, or send her a message using the contact form above.