Shrimp Shells are like liquid gold when you simmer them into a bright shrimp stock.
I rarely buy peeled shrimp because I don't want to lose out on the shells! If I can find shrimp with the head on even better! I found these Argentinian Red Shrimp intact and frozen at my local Caudles Seafood Superstore in Kitchener.
When I was preparing them I realized there is a reason that the Zipper back shrimp are cut down the center back. Shells will peel off nicely in one direction but if you are 'going against the grain' it is a painful experience.
Thanks goodness after I fought with the first one for a few minutes I remembered the 'Zipper Back'... works much better.
I chopped the heads off. You can easily see where the head meets the body. Then I slit the center back and peeled the shells off. Deveining is a must as well.
I worked with the Argentinian shrimp while they were semi frozen. Makes it easier to handle them than when the flesh is all soft.
So - peel your shrimp, reserve the shrimp bodies in your fridge for whatever recipe you are using.
Then you are going to simmer the shells (and heads if you have them) in a sauce pan for about 10 minutes.
Drain the solids out though a colander and reserve the shrimp stock to use in your recipe. If there is fine sediment on the bottom either strain it off or stop pouring before it mixes in. The sediment will make your stock gritty so you don't want it in the stock you are using.
You won't be sorry you took the extra few minutes!
It also freezes well like any other stock so you can have a few on hand.
If you have lots of shells and heads you can easily scale this recipe up to make a bigger batch of whatever amount you want to end up with.
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste ( I use Ketchup)
- shrimp shells from about a pound of shrimp
- Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a sauce pan. Simmer about 10 minutes until it is reduced by half to 1 cup.
- Strain out the solids and reserve the stock to use in your recipe.