A rich stock enhances and deepens the flavor of just about any recipe by matching flavors. This seafood stock will go with gumbos, etouffee, creoles and many other seafood dishes.
Estimated Time 4 hourshours25 minutesminutes
Here's What You Need
8cupsshrimp shells and heads
3large Gumbo crab
½pintOysters with liquid
1large Yellow onions
1large Bell peppers
1bunch Green onions
Here's What You Do
Place the shrimp shells and gumbo crabs on a baking sheet. Melt ¼ cup of margarine and pour it over the shrimp shells and crabs. Mix together with your hands to distribute the margarine.
Place the baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.
Slice the yellow onion, bell pepper and garlic head in half. Chop the celery into approximately 4-inch pieces. Tie the parsley and herbs with butcher twine to make a bouquet garni. Place the peppercorns and broken bay leaves into a spice bag.
In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over high heat.
Place the yellow onions, bell pepper and garlic cut side down in the stockpot. Add the celery and sear for about 5 minutes.
Add the green onions, parsley, herbs and spice bag and stir well.
Add the roasted shrimp shells and Gumbo crabs plus all the juice that accumulated while roasting. Add the oysters with their juice.
Pour 16 cups (4 quarts) of cold water into the stockpot and stir everything together well.
Bring the stockpot to a high boil for 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered.
Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cover, stirring occasionally.
After 2 hours, remove the lid and continue at a low simmer for another hour.
If it looks like the liquid has reduced by about 50%, remove the stockpot from the heat.
After it cools for about 30 minutes, remove the solids with a slotted spoon into a strainer over a bowl large enough to hold 8 cups. Let the solids drain for about 15 minutes.
Discard the solids, then pour the remaining liquids through the strainer (optionally use some cheesecloth or a filter in the strainer).
This should yield about 8 cups.
If you are not going to use the stock right away, place it in freezer containers with a little headroom for expansion and refrigerate.
If you are not going to use the stock within 2 days, place the containers in the freezer. Make sure to label them with the name and date.
For a more detailed explanation of the process, read my Homemade Seafood Stock article.How do I store homemade stock?If you are not going to use the stock immediately, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. The stock will be good for 3 to 4 days.If you are not going to use the stock within a couple of days, place it in freezer containers with enough headroom to allow expansion. Make sure the containers are airtight and it will last 4 to 6 months. I recommend freezing in 2 or 4 cup portions, making sure to place a label on the containers with the name and date made. When you are ready to use it, it can be defrosted in cold water (change the water every thirty minutes), in the refrigerator overnight, or in a large saucepan under very low heat.What other types of seafood can I use?This is a very versatile stock and can be used in just about any type of seafood recipe. Since that is basically a regional exercise, use seafood that is common in your region. My recipe uses the basic seafood we find in South Louisiana recipes. We could add fish carcasses (remove the gills) and crawfish shells and heads. You can also use lobsters, scallops or other seafood that is available and may lend a flavor that works for your particular recipe. I don’t have enough shrimp shells?You should never throw your seafood shells away. Store them in the freezer (airtight) until you have accumulated enough shells to make a stock. For shrimp shells, this includes fresh shells as well as cooked shells. Save them all and they can be mixed together. Why no salt?The finished stock will be an integral part of the recipe in which you use it. I try to keep the flavors of the stock basic to the main ingredient. You will salt the final dish as appropriate for the entire recipe so by not adding salt to the stock you can finish the final dish as needed. What other ingredients can I include in the stock?While I think that keeping it as simple as possible produces the best results, you could add carrots, some dry white wine and other fresh herbs that you like. Remember, the stockpot is not a garbage pail, so whatever you use make sure it’s fresh and something you would eat. If using carrots, slice them in half lengthwise and sear them with the onions.