The shells and heads from crustaceans such
as crab, lobster, crayfish and shrimp can be used to make a flavorful
crustacean stock. Crustacean stock or broth is useful as a base for soups
and sauces and for cooking rice dishes. Usually crustacean stocks are made
with tomatoes because the tomatoes enhance the color of the stock and
their flavor is a natural match. Herbs, usually in the form of a bouquet
garni, are also added to crustacean stocks, but tarragon, either chopped
and added at the end or included in the bouquet garni is especially
delicious. If you're using either crayfish, shrimp heads, lobster or crab
shells, grind up the heads in a food processor or crush them with the end
of a rolling pin so that all their flavor goes into the surrounding
liquid. Don't put claw shells or thick crab shells into a food processor
or you'll damage the blade. Since most shrimp come with their heads
already removed, you may have to use just the shells from the tails.
Freeze the shells in a plastic bag until you have enough for at least a
small pot of stock.
Kitchen Tips -
and heads must be well broken up so the surrounding liquid extracts their
flavor. They can be broken up with the end of a rolling pin, the end of a
cleaver held up on end or in a food processor. Hard shells such as
lobster crab and crayfish claws, however, will damage the food processor
blade and should be broken up manually by hand. Thin delicate shells such
as shrimp tail peelings, require no breaking up but the shrimp heads, if
you have them, need to.
can be saved for up to 2 months, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the
freezer, to accumulate enough to make a batch of stock or broth.
For rich soups or
sauces, cream and butter can be used to extract flavor and color from
has an affinity for tarragon, tomatoes, saffron and cognac, all of which
can be used to flavor sauces, soups and rice dishes.
for shrimp stock or broth
Shells and heads from crustaceans such as
crabs, shrimp, crayfish, and lobster make full-flavored stock.
Put shrimp shells and
heads in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with chopped aromatic vegetables.
Crush shrimp heads and
shells with the end of a European-style rolling pin (the type
without handles) or the end of a cleaver held up on one end.
Add coarsely chopped
tomatoes, a bouquet garni and enough water to cover and simmer for
about 45 minutes. Strain.