Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock: Getting Ready for Cajun Shrimp Stew

Homemade stock is a crucial element in delicious soups and stews. It was no surprise to find a great stock recipe in Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders  as the base for the Cajun Shrimp Stew, set to post on Monday.  Although it is easy to do the entire recipe in an afternoon, I thought it might be helpful for some to have the stock recipe prepared in advance.

Daughter Having a Little Fun with It

When shopping for this dish, it was not easy to find a good quantity of shrimp shells and heads. Many large grocery chains now have their fish products trimmed at a larger facility and shipped to them case-ready. I had some shells from the shrimp for the stew, but that was not enough for a great stock. To improvise, I asked Whole Foods for a 3-4 pound fish head, which they had.  Availability of scraps and carcasses can simply be an issue of timing; however, a good fishmonger will usually have something to offer in their freezer.

As Emeril indicates in the introduction to the recipe, it makes a remarkable difference to roast or brown the bones or carcasses.  Roasting the savory vegetables in a 350° oven for 45 minutes or so will caramelize the sugars and deepen the flavor of the stock even more. Allowing time for it to reduce will create an aromatic and richly fortified stock, you do not want to skip this step in the process.  With this Rich Shrimp Stock we are one step closer to the Cajun Shrimp Stew!

Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock

Yield:  About 12 cups
This stock is so easy to make, yet so flavorful—make a batch every time you have shells and heads from fresh shrimp and you’ll never have to worry about where to get shrimp stock again. You’ll find that toasting the shells in oil before adding the water gives added depth to this stock, which can be used in countless ways.

1 to 1 ½ pounds shrimp shells and heads
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
14 cups water
1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped (the onion peel deepens the color of the stock)
½ cup roughly chopped celery
2 small carrots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh parsley

1. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander under cold running water and allow to drain.

2. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are pink and toasty-fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the water and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at a slow simmer until the stock is flavorful, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl and allow it to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using. (The stock may also be placed in airtight containers and frozen for up to several months.)

Note: You can easily double the ingredient amounts to make a larger batch of stock. To save space in the freezer, you can reduce the stock further after straining and discarding the solids. Just add water to the defrosted stock to reconstitute as needed.

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15 Responses to Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock: Getting Ready for Cajun Shrimp Stew

  1. Nelly Rodriguez September 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Gorgeous and great idea adding the head!

  2. mjskit September 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    You are absolutely right that homemade stock is crucial to soups and stews!!!! While you were making this wonderful looking shrimp stock I was making chicken stock. :) Can’t wait to see the Cajun Shrimp Stew!

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide September 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    You are so right. Stock makes all the difference. Love the picture of the fish head.

    • Judy September 11, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      My kids can be so silly–glad she gave me permission to put that one in there. Made me laugh.

  4. rsmacaalay September 11, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    We do nearly the same thing for shrimp stock the only difference is that we pound the heads with mortar and pestle to extract the juices inside them

    • Judy September 11, 2011 at 7:42 am #

      I can see how that would make a difference, unfortunately, I didn’t have the shrimp heads, but my fish head fell apart nicely :)

  5. frugalfeeding September 11, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    Stock really does make all the difference as most of the body of the dish comes from it. Looks really great.

  6. ChgoJohn September 11, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    I’ve a bag of shrimp shells & heads in my freezer, just waiting to be made into stock. It’s always best when homemade and you’ve shared a great recipe. Thanks.

  7. Karen September 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Homemade stock makes such a difference in a recipe. I have used fish heads for stock just once. I was asked at the fish counter if I wanted the eyes removed and of course I said “yes, please”.

    • Judy September 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      Karen, I cooked my first fish head last year for Bouillabaisse … didn’t think to ask for that! The kids thought it was pretty cool to see the eye floating in it, just made me squeamish, so I let my husband strain it (ha!). Thanks for the tip!

  8. thedrivencook September 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    This looks good- if only I wasn’t allergic to shellfish!

    • Judy September 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

      Ashley, you can leave out the shrimp and simply make it fish stock. I also made suggestion on the Cajun Shrimp Stew post to switch out the shrimp with firm white fish–it would be just as delicious.

  9. Emugg June 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    How funny, I was looking to see if using the heads of the shrimp would make a better stock than just using the shells. I just clicked the link without realizing it was to the site of my favorite “Osso Buco lady.” Your site is one of only three I have on my toolbar and USUALLY go to first. However I didn’t think to look for something Cajun here lol.

    Your osso buco recipe though is still one of my favorites.

    • Judy Purcell June 13, 2014 at 7:17 am #

      Emugg, thank you for your kind comment, it makes my day to hear from readers. There are a few Cajun recipes here, it is certainly some of my favorite food to savor. Glad you found what you were looking for, have a great weekend. :)

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