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Jun 22, 2011 02:37 AM

Seafood stock QUESTION.

Right now is the peak of shellfish season where I live and I've been using a spiced stock to boil crab, crawfish, and shrimp. Here's my question...For the last month or so, I've drained the stock, reduced it somewhat, strained it and saved it. THEN, rather than save it for a soup base, gumbo, etouffee, etc. I simply use it again on pretty much a weekly basis every time I get fresh seafood to boil. I've reused this stock for the last month probably five times now and each time I add new celery, onions, peppers, seasoning, wine, etc. then strain, reduce and save again. I know that pretty much any professional chef would probably think that this is insane. My main question is whether or not this is safe? I immediately freeze the stock after each boil. Next, am I adding to or diminishing the flavor of the stock? I've never known anyone to do this...Of course, I taste it and it seems's concentrated and has a deep flavor. Please advise!

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  1. if you boil it i can;t see what could be unsafe about it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thew

      I don't even know if "any professional chef would think this is insane" is accurate. There are other reasons they might not do this . . .

      Otherwise I have to agree that as long you bring it to a boil you should be fine.

      Eventually I think your flavors will be out of balance and it might not taste as good as before. At some point you might want to consider turning 1/2 of it into a soup or thickening it and using it as a sauce over your shellfish, say over rice or something. With the remaining 1/2 you could add more water, vegetables, and seafood. I would also think eventually this will get WAY too salty. I'd hate for you to end up with some insanely good reduced stock and then it turn out too salty and "past" its ideal flavor profiles.

    2. I agree with the replies above that there is no obvious safety issue, so far as i know.

      In fact, in Chinese cooking, there is the concept of a "master sauce," a mixture of water, soy sauce, rock sugar, xiaoxing wine and sesame oil in which you can poach chicken, reusing the sauce for years of subsequent chicken cooking. The norm there is to keep the sauce in the fridge and to reuse it, or simply reboil, every ten days or so for safety's sake. It can also be frozen.

      As long as you relish the flavor of your current stock, all is well. I do suspect, like thimes, that the flavor balance might get off or too intense, especially if you're adding salt each time. I'd consider splitting off half of the fluid now for cooking other things, then rediluting what remains for further shellfish boils.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bada Bing

        Thank you so much for the advice. I actually don't re-salt the stock much so, it's not too salty -but it is super concentrated...almost like a 'base' or 'bouillon' if you will. I use it for two things mainly: Etouffee and Seafood Stew (Bouillaibasse). I appreciate the perspective and the amazingly fast response times!