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Making shrimp stock for the first time..

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I have about 4 lbs of Maine shrimp shells and heads in the freezer and am planning on turning it into stock tomorrow. Should I use chicken stock or just plain water...and how much liquid per pound? Also how long should I cook it...It should be fairly quick right...not an all day affair like a chicken stock? Thanks for any hints or advice!
And on edit....it is the bodies and heads of 4lbs of shrimp so I guess it's not 4lbs after all...

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  1. There may be more complex ways, but I boil up enough plain water to comfortably cover the mess of shrimp shells with salt, peppercorns, a bay leaf, parsley sprig (or celery or fennel frond, whatever's on hand), maybe a lemon slice or 2. Add the shells after about 10 minutes, cook at a moderate simmer for another 15-20. Strain, taste for salt, etc; you can always reduce the stock for desired intensity. A little dry white wine also works.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bob96

      Do you think I need to defrost the little buggers first? or just dropping them into the boiling water should be fine?

      1. re: tunapet

        Just drop them in, and bring back to a simmer. They'll have water in them so you might have to reduce the final stock a bit for flavor.

    2. When I have shells and heads from a batch of freshly peeled shrimp (usually 1.5-2 lbs), I toss them into a pan with some olive oil and saute until opaque then deglaze with some white wine, then add water (4-5 cups). I then also add about half a small onion, a small clove of galic (whole, not crushed), some fresh parsley and celery leaves and peppercorns. I simmer this gently for an hour or so. Add salt to taste. Strain through cheese cloth and freeze if I'm not using it all right away.
      If yours are frozen, I suppose you can skip the sauteing step, but I think it adds a bit more depth of flavor.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PamelaD

        Skipping the saute would be a mistake, you would lose a lot of depth and sweetness. I also add the aromatics in and give them a sweat before any liquid goes in.
        You can replace the saute by roasting but unless you are doing a large amount sauteing is quicker and easier.
        As far as stock goes, it depend what your final use is. If you are making a mixed protein dish (Shrimp and Chicken) i would use Chicken Stock. If it was for a straight Seafood dish, Fish Stock or Water.

        1. re: PamelaD

          You have fine tips here. The one additional step I'd advocating is squeezing the heads through the cheese cloth or pressing them in a chinois. There is a lot of flavor that can be extracted from the fat in the heads.

        2. Roast the shells & heads in a hot oven for about 30 minutes (make sure they don't burn) -- easier than pan roasting and you don't add oil, which you then have to skim (if you want clear stock). Deglaze the roasting pan, simmier in an appropriate amount of water with onion, celery & maybe carrot for about 40 minutes or so. Nothing to it, but the roasting adds a lot of depth. Makes the stock clearer, too.