Kitchen Recycling: Shrimp Stock

March 20, 2009 | By | Comments (5)

Roastedshrimpct1667886lIn my four years at college in New Orleans, I fell in love with shrimp–they were fresh from the Gulf, abundant, and cheap (even for a poverty-stricken student)–so I cooked them twice a week or more. I still love shrimp today, but prices are a bit higher now that I’m farther from the coast, so I save by buying shell-on or even whole shrimp. Peeling the shrimp takes a little time, but it’s worth the better price.

Problem is, I’m always left with piles of shells and tails, and it seems like a shame to just throw them out. That’s how I discovered the wonders of shrimp stock.

All the food magazines and cookbooks rave about how wonderful homemade stock is, and how important it is for proper sauces (and, sure, they’re right), but veal stock takes half a day to make, and chicken stock not much less time. The beauty of shrimp stock is it takes half an hour.

Next time you buy shrimp, get shell-on, and try this: roughly chop an onion (you don’t even have to peel it), and throw in a pot with the shrimp shells and tails and a little olive oil. Saute until the shells just begin to brown, then add enough water to cover (3-4 cups is enough for the shells and tails from a pound of shrimp) and a few whole peppercorns. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes, then strain. That’s all there is to it. If you want to get fancier, you can add parsley or other herbs, carrot and celery, half a lemon, whatever you like. I like to pour the stock into ice cube trays to freeze so I can thaw out just what I need when I need it.

Risottocl1254914l_2 Now that you’ve got a supply in the freezer,there are all kinds of shrimp stock uses and recipes: shrimp bisque, seafood stew, this great Chile-roasted Shrimp recipe (photo above) where the stock makes a sauce, but my favorite use for shrimp stock, and my secret dish to impress anybody, is seafood risotto. Replace the chicken or fish stock in your favorite recipe with homemade shrimp stock for a big boost in flavor, combined with risotto’s natural creamy richness and plenty of seafood. I love shrimp, scallops, and mussels in my risotto, but clams, firm-fleshed fish, lobster–anything works. The best part is, risotto only takes about 25-30 minutes to cook, which makes an indulgent, restaurant-like dish like this one feasible even on a weeknight.


  1. Kim

    Wow – I had no idea shrimp stock was so much easier to prepare than other stocks. I’ve been reluctant to try making chicken stock, but this sounds like a no-brainer. Great tip!

    March 20, 2009 at 9:20 am
  2. Kimberly Pettigrew

    Great post Jason! I would have never imagined that homemade shrimp stock was so easy. I’m inspired

    March 25, 2009 at 9:36 am
  3. Miriam

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    March 31, 2009 at 5:04 am
  4. Amy in SC

    I was thrilled to see this blog! I made a huge pot of Low Country Boil last weekend and saved all the broth because it was so flavorful. I had no idea how to re-use it, but figured I would do a little research. I now have plenty of great ideas. Thank you!

    June 26, 2009 at 12:57 pm
  5. Loretta

    Quick note: I freeze the shells if I’m not going to use them right away. Still makes good stock.

    January 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm

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