I just realized that for years I’ve been throwing away gold. Pink culinary gold. With what I know now, I can’t believe I am saying this, but I used to think that shrimp shells were [gasp] garbage. Meanwhile, wholly convinced that this was true, I passed up recipe after recipe that called for making a shrimp stock thinking, “Oh, I’m way too lazy for that.” But last week, I was on assignment and there was no getting around it: I had to make a shrimp stock for a project I was working on for a client. To my surprise, it was easy, quick, and so worth it. Five minutes of prep (not counting the 10 minutes it took me to shell and devein the shrimp, but let’s face it, if you’re cooking shrimp, you probably have to do that anyway) and 45 minutes simmering on the stove was all it took. The end result was an intensely shrimpy, full-flavored base for soup, sauce, or seafood risotto.
I’m telling you, you should make this easy shrimp stock today because tomorrow I’m going to post a recipe for Shrimp Bisque that you are going to want to make ASAP. You can cook the shrimp today, too: just drop the shelled, deveined shrimp into well-salted boiling water and simmer until pink and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on their size. Then drain, chill, and store in a tightly covered container in the fridge. You can also store the raw shrimp, tightly covered in the fridge, until tomorrow as long as it is very fresh.
And, if you’re going to ignore my advice and insist on tossing out those shrimp shells, um… can I have them?
This shrimp stock can easily be made into a lobster, crab, or crayfish stock by substituting those shells for the shrimp shells.
Makes about 8 cups.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Shells from 2 pounds shrimp, rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 or 4 medium-sized mushrooms (such as cremini, button, or shiitake), chopped
- 10 cups water
- Heat a large, heavy stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter and when it is melted, add the shrimp shells.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are just beginning to brown, 5 minutes or so.
- Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer (do not boil).
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Do not stir (I’m told stirring makes a “muddy” stock).
- Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer, discard solids, and set stock aside to cool.
- Store stock in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.