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.
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.
Cover with water and add some black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.
Bring this to a simmer, cover and leave for 30 minutes or so. Remove the lid and allow the stock reduce by about half.
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.
Place the solid bits in the strainer and repeat the process.
When you have processed (bashed) everything, pour the stock, through muslin, into another saucepan.
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.
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…