Why can't I find seafood stock at my local supermarket?

Whenever I look for stock, there’s only about 3 choices I ever see on the shelves: beef, chicken, or vegetable. I’ve seen a lot of receipes for things I want to make that requires seafood stock, but for some reason its not in the soup aisle or any aisle. Are my local markets just woefully understocked or does seafood stock go bad so quickly that they can’t put it in cans and sell it off the shelf?

There might be a separate section (as in separate from the soup products) in your supermarket for “Knorr” products. Knorr makes seafood stock bouillon cubes. Look in the pre-made sauce area for this. Alternatively, go to an Hispanic market and look for Knorr seafood bouillon cubes. They’ll have an illustration of a red shrimp on the package. When you find it, stock (heh) up on a few boxes.

Perhaps there’s less demand, 'tho yo might want to check the fish area of the supermarket for something canned. You can also buy bottled clam juice, so there is something like fish stock, just not actually fish stock, that you can use. I recently made some fish stock, and online recipes suggest no more than 40 minutes of boiling of fish head and bones, to avoid bad flavors. If that’s the case the convenience angle may just not be there, compared to beef and chicken stock. Also consider, canned chicken and beef stock are flavorful because they can steam process old animals (egg layers, for example) and stores don’t sell those for our use. Makes me wonder, what fish would producers use – really nice heads and bones like I used, or crap fish they would have recycled into fertilizer anyway?

I think it’s more of a supply and demand thing. You could always make your own seafood stock fresh… here’s one recipe.


Seafood stock is highly perishable and lightly flavored. This means that if the store has fresh stuff, it will go bad within 24 hours so is not a good candidate for long term stock. The fact that it is very mild means you cant really make a concentrated salty version of it that would keep.

It’s dead easy to make, get your self some fish heads and bones and cover with water and simmer for half an hour, skimming periodically. I prefer to make shrimp stock with the shells and heads myself.

That’s what I’ve heard. I wondered if Pike Place Fish Market carried it, and they don’t. However they said that when I want some all I have to do is give them a call and they will bag up the appropriate bones and have it ready when I come down. I’m sure any fishmonger will do the same.

Better Than Bouillon brand offers a fish, a clam, and a lobster base, in addition to its other flavor bases. I don’t know about the seafood bases…but the turkey, chicken, and beef bases are all very good. They seem to have a much more natural flavor, and seem to be less salty than the dry stuff. You DO have to keep the opened jars in the fridge, but they last for a long time.


<mod>Since this question is about foodstuffs, I’m gonna move it on over to Cafe Society.</mod>


Does your store stock clam juice? You could use that fairly interchangeably with seafood stock or just give it a short simmer with some aromatics (onions, carrots, parley, salt and pepper) to truly make your own.

Penzey’s has one.

I like this one for serving with soba, udon, ramen, or dumplings:

I haven’t used it as the basis for a soup, however.

Must be a regional thing. I use their chicken, beef and even ham bases all the time, but I never saw anything in our supermarkets that was remotely seafood-ish.

I can find the Better than Bouillon chicken & beef (both in low sodium), but I would love to find them in the other flavor bases. Otherwise, seafood stock comes in the Kitchen Basics brand, and of course, clam juice. I agree that it’s probably regional.

You can order the Better Than Bouillon bases from their website: http://www.superiortouch.com/retail

I know that my daughter bought the lobster base locally, but she might very well have gone to a specialty/ethnic store to buy it. I don’t know about the other seafood bases, as I haven’t looked for them locally. I’m quite happy with using the chicken, turkey, and beef bases. I eat a lot of poultry, particularly turkey, and it’s handy to have the flavor bases in the fridge for a sauce.

Quite often you can find fish stock in the frozen foods, if not in your usual market, then in an Asian market.