Big on flavour, small on freezer space – Highly concentrated prawn stock.

Extreme prawn stock (1 of 9)The last time we had Dublin Bay Prawns was after the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival (imagine dreaming up such a thing). Having driven out to Howth and back again, there was not time to make prawn stock. So, I thought the best thing to do was to freeze the shells and heads for later use. In my mind, later can mean any time in the future. That is, unless the Wife decides that there was not enough space in the freezer and my prawn shells have to go. The day arrived when I was forced to empty the space in the freezer. A debate began about the merits of getting rid of the shells and replacing them with stock. This did not go down well as the net gain in freezer space would be minimal. I had to think creatively. The only answer was to make highly concentrated prawn stock. That would be big on flavour and small on freezer space. I did similar before with beef stock and also chicken stock and it is well worth the effort.

Break the claws open to allow the flavour out. A good idea to wear glasses during this.

Break the claws open to allow the flavour out. A good idea to wear glasses during this.

First, break the claws. This is easy enough to do while they are still frozen. Add everything to a big hot sauté pan with some olive oil. There will be a lot of spitting and spluttering, just like there was while I tried to defend the freezer space.

Cooke the shells until they turn colour and become a bright pink.

Cooke the shells until they turn colour and become a bright pink.

Cover with water and add some black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.

If you don't like the aroma of prawns, don't attempt this cooking.

If you don’t like the aroma of prawns, don’t attempt this cooking.

Bring this to a simmer, cover and leave for 30 minutes or so. Remove the lid and allow the stock reduce by about half.

If you think things can't get much more prawny, think again.

If you think things can’t get much more prawny, think again.

Spoon out some of the prawn stock, through a conical strainer, into another saucepan. With enough of the stock removed, bash the prawn heads with a rolling pin to release the meat in the heads.

There is a fair bit of rolling pin action going on in this post.

There is a fair bit of rolling pin action going on in this post.

Place the solid bits in the strainer and repeat the process.

"Noooooo. Don't hit me" the little prawn seems to be saying. However, he died weeks ago.

“Noooooo. Don’t hit me” the little prawn seems to be saying. However, he died weeks ago.

When you have processed (bashed) everything, pour the stock, through muslin, into another saucepan.

Removing the last of the solids to give a nice stock.

Removing the last of the solids to give a nice stock.

Then return the saucepan to the heat and gently simmer until the stock is reduced to about a quarter litre (half pint). Let it cool and then pour it into and ice cube tray.

Highly concentrated prawn flavour. Pouring it into the ice cube tray took concentration too.

Highly concentrated prawn flavour. Pouring it into the ice cube tray took concentration too.

Freeze the ice cube tray and pray that the Wife will not demand the space occupied by these ‘prawn bombs’. I will be using them to flavour seafood risottos and any dish that demands a big fishy hit. More of this extreme prawn stock when I get to use it in a recipe…

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  • Another great post, Conor! The photo where you are about to bash the prawn’s head is great 🙂 As you know I also do this, although more often with soft-shelled shrimp than with hard-shelled scampi (langoustines, prawns). Good trick to break the claws to boost flavor extraction, I’ll remember that for next time. If you have any leftover parsley stems, they are also great for flavoring this stock.

    • Thanks Stefan. I used the first of the ‘prawn bombs’ in a risotto. Really awesome flavour. Post to follow.

  • A classic example of brain over prawn. You used your head (and theirs) to arrive at a solution both Herself and yourself are happy with….

    • Kate, you will have to stop this. You are using me as a prawn in your game of puns.

  • Great idea! I cannot wait to see what you’re going to cook with all that stock!

    • I have a lovely risotto done and ready to post in a couple of weeks time. More to follow…

  • Have not made seafood stock awhile, so thanks for the remembrances . . . Yes, I also oft put concentrated stocks in ice cube trays for exactly the same reason as yours . . .I can ‘taste’ yours from here now 🙂 !

    • Thanks Eha,
      The concentrating is great. I love being able to just go to the freezer when I need to make a quick gravy or sauce, knowing we are having great, pure ingredients.

  • What a great idea, Conor! I’ve a couple bags of shells in the freezer and you’ve provided the perfect solution. Thanks!

    • Thanks John,
      Great to see you back here (and there, I must check out your blog). It’s a good way to get space and create some harmony.

  • Great post Conor and the bashing is a great way to get rid of your aggression. 🙂 I make shrimp stock and freeze it, too. I use it primarily in cajun cooking but a nice shrimp risotto would be great as well. Looking forward to reading that one.

    • Thanks Richard. A fantastic idea for it. The Wife does a pretty good jambalaya. It could be intensified with some of this. BTW, I did another Texas chilli. It was excellent. I will hold off posting it until the weather here cools down a bit. It doesn’t seem right posting chilli in the heat for some reason.

  • Again with the interesting tools – I want one of those jugs with the spout at the bottom.

    • It lives in the box of ‘not used often’ stuff that seems to just get fuller and fuller.

  • Reducing is a great idea … I’m doing it next time I make shellfish stock!

    • Do give it a whirl John, it really gives a great flavour punch to dishes.

  • Brilliant. I love the way you cook.

    • Thanks Amanda,
      It’s all good fun, if a little extreme and silly for most people.

  • Ideas don’t get better than this Conor. Your blog is always a great place to visit. You always pass down great knowledge!

  • Great simple recipe but so big in flavor. I love your idea for freeing in the ice cube trays!

    • I am such a tightwad that once frozen, I extract them and release the tray for other use. They stay separate in a freezer bag.

  • Excellent idea! How was the rest of the trip? Be well! ^..^

    • We had a fantastic time Barb. Over too quickly but great fun. A few posts to follow.

  • I like the bashing technique. 🙂 I have some beef bones and plan on making concentrated beef stock similar to yours. I like how little space it takes.

    • Throw some scrag end meat in the mix. It will add greatly to the flavour of the stock. A good tip I got from Stefan Gourmet.

  • Fabulous! This would be so great in a pasta, a soup, of course a risotto like you mentioned… WOW!

    • It was pretty special, if I say so myself. Very happy with it.

  • I can’t add much more to the comments than what has already been said. So I’ll just say I am looking forward to your risotto post! 🙂

  • Kate has beaten me to it on the punning front so I’ll refrain from jokes about the Irish stock market and just say thanks for the tip. It’s a good ‘un!

    • She got in quick. I don’t think my pension can take any more stock market jokes!

  • well, my mom used to dd that a lot before she making a seafood soup,
    but never even thought to put and keep it in the freezer, just using it fresh!

    • Hi Ðedy, Fresh is, no doubt, better. But, life means frozen is good too.

  • This is class! I did something like this once in the restaurant with left over shells. Fried them off (bashed to pieces of course) in a pan until seriously red and gold in colour then poured in a bottle of inexpensive rapeseed or olive oil. Let it sit for about an hour or so off the heat them strain through muslin back into the olive oil bottle. Incredible shellfish oil to have in the store cupboard to lived up anything it gets near!

    • Great idea indeed. If I get brave enough to go through the process again, I’ll give it a go. Though, in my domestic kitchen, it would take me an age to get through the oil.

  • Those little prawn heads would make me feel guilty during the bashing process. But as you said, death became them a long time ago… so it’s great that you get ‘double reward’ from one batch of prawns Conor! I can imagine the prawny smell. I am sure that my husband would wrinkle his nose if I attempted this (as he does whenever I use fish sauce. But then he eats whatever I make with gusto… haha).

    • Make him wrinkle his nose. Well worth it.
      Best,
      C

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