Seafood and Fish Stocks

We throw wonderful flavor into the trash!

Use fish or seafood stock in a base for soup or sauces, or even a special pot of rice.

When we splurge on lobster, I gather the shells together and tuck them in a stock pot. The next day, or two months from then, we’ll feast on lobster bisque. It is like getting an extra meal out of your treat.

     Lobster stock: Fill your large stockpot with lobster shells and heads. Add a large cut-up onion, a couple of stalks of celery, roughly chopped, a couple of chopped carrots or parsnips, a tablespoon each of Old Bay seasoning and sweet paprika, a couple of bay leaves, and whatever other spices you desire. I also add a head or two of fennel bulbs, cut up, the entire thing, stalks and fronds included, any cut up lemons from the meal, and a pinch of saffron, salt and pepper.

Bring the stock to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let is go for about 40 minutes, and up to an hour. Cool, then strain and use or freeze.

     Shrimp stock: This is quickest of all. If I am having shrimp for dinner, I’ll peel and devein them earlier in the day, tuck the prepared shrimp in the refrigerator, and place the shells in a little pot. Add a cup-up shallot, salt and pepper, and any herbs you like.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer. The good news is that you will get every drop of flavor out of these babies in 30 minutes. Drain and use in soup, sauces, a base for your rice that evening, or freeze.

   Fish stock: I often beg fish carcasses from my fish monger, and they are glad to get rid of them. It is not unusual to come out of the market with a bag of six or eight of these treasures in a giant bag! In general, supermarkets do not have the bones because they get their fish in already cut up, so you’ll have to go to an actual fish market. Some charge an extremely modest fee for this to cover their employee’s time, but often you can get them for nothing.

Fill your pot with the carcasses. You will probably have to get out your cleaver and shop them up a bit. Fill with water, and add much the same vegetables as you did with the lobster stock, omitting the paprika and saffron.

     Kitchen hint: For a clear stock, skim off the foam every ten minutes or so, and drain through a mesh strainer that you have lined with cheesecloth.