3to 5 pounds of bones and heads from the fish you are cooking(gills removed)
1/4cupsunflower or other vegetable oil
2large carrots,peeled and chopped
1/4cupbuffaloberry syrup,or some other syrup
2to 3 teaspoons Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
Salt to taste
4skinless white fish fillets
5tablespoonssunflower oil or unsalted butter(divided)
3garlic cloves, minced
Smoked salt or regular salt
1/4cupchopped wild green onions(or scallions or chives)
Freshly ground black pepper
Start by making the stock. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make sure you remove the gills from the fish carcasses, as they will make the stock cloudy and bitter. Coat the fish carcasses with the oil and salt well. Lay the carcasses out side by side in a roasting pan -- stacking them will slow the browning process -- and roast until nicely browned, about 1 hour. I flip the bones halfway.
Once they're nicely browned, move the bones, heads, etc to a large stockpot and just barely cover with water. Pour some water into the roasting pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits in the pan. Pour all this into the stockpot. Add the remaining stock ingredients and bring to a very gentle simmer. A shimmy, really. Let this steep/cook for 2 hours.
While the stock is cooking, mix together the ingredients for the sauce. When the stock has about 30 minutes left to go, take the fish from the fridge and salt it. Set it on a cutting board to cure quickly. Melt the butter over low heat in a pan large enough to hold the fish in one layer. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat for now.
As soon as the stock is ready, begin the risotto by sauteing the onions in 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil or butter in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Salt them as they cook. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and the barley and saute for 2 minutes, stirring often. Grab a ladle in one hand and a fine-meshed strainer in the other. Ladle some stock through the strainer into the risotto pan. Start stirring the barley. You will need to do this more or less constantly until the barley cooks, which takes about 35 minutes or so.
Add the thyme and a healthy pinch of smoked salt and keep adding more hot stock as you go, one ladle at a time, replacing the stock when the liquid has mostly evaporated.
Once you start adding the stock to the risotto, pat the fish dry with paper towels and submerge it in the melted butter. Turn the heat to low on the butter and very gently poach the fish as you make the risotto. Don't let the butter sizzle!
When the barley is ready -- you want it to be cooked through but still a bit al dente -- add the wild onions, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the final 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or butter.
To serve, spoon some risotto into shallow bowls on on plates and top with a piece of fish. Drizzle some of the sauce around the edge of the barley, and top each fish with the chicharron. The chicharron will get soggy quickly, so everyone should eat that first.