Shrimp stock is a flavorful, umami-packed liquid made by simmering the heads and shells of shrimp. It adds an extra boost of flavor and helps reduce food waste, making it an essential ingredient in any kitchen.
Certain recipes may call for shelled shrimp, though buying them with their shells on allows you to extract all the rich and savory flavors. Making shrimp stock is a breeze and cost-effective. It's also freezer-friendly, so you can whip up a big batch and have it ready whenever you need it.
How to make shrimp stock
Shrimp stock is quick and easy to prepare as it requires only a few ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make.
Step 1: Brown the heads and shells
In a saucepan, add about 1 tablespoon of oil and lightly brown the shells and heads for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Press on the shrimp heads to extract the flavorful juices.
Step 2: Add ingredients and simmer
Add 4 cups of water, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt), and some black pepper. Let it boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Strain and store
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer, then discard the solids. The stock can be used right away or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for future use.
According to CNN, shrimp shells are exoskeletons composed mainly of chitin, a complex carbohydrate with potential health benefits such as antifungal and antibacterial properties. It also contains other beneficial compounds, such as calcium and antioxidants.
Shrimp heads are nutrient-dense, with small amounts of protein and fat. A potential downside to consider is the use of farm-raised shrimp from certain countries that may contain antibiotics.
Individuals who are allergic to shrimp should also avoid consuming shrimp stock to prevent an allergic reaction. Consulting with a healthcare professional regarding dietary concerns or potential allergies is always best.
Shrimp stock usually doesn't need to cook as long as other stocks. Simmering it for 5 minutes after it comes to a boil is typically sufficient.
Shrimp stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to let it cool completely before storing.
Substitutes for shrimp stock
If you're unable to make shrimp stock from scratch, there are several alternatives that can be used:
- Store-bought shrimp stock: A ready-to-use liquid form of shrimp stock similar to other stocks and broths. Look for brands that use quality ingredients with no additives or preservatives.
- Shrimp bouillon or base: Available in cube or granular form, this is a dehydrated, concentrated version that provides a similar flavor.
- Dried shrimp: Rehydrate the shrimp in hot water and use the resulting liquid as a substitute for shrimp stock.
- Seafood or fish stock: With its similar flavor profile, it can replace shrimp stock in most recipes. Choose low-sodium options made from high-quality ingredients.
- Chicken stock: When shrimp flavor is not the main focus or other ingredients can balance the chicken flavor, chicken stock can be a viable substitute for shrimp stock.
- Vegetable stock: As an alternative, it can be used for vegetarians or vegans.
- Water: In a pinch, plain water can substitute for shrimp stock. While it won't add flavor to your dish, it can help create a broth-like consistency in soups and stews or serve as a base for other flavors in the dish.
Explore ways to use your shrimp stock
Shrimp stock is a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavor of many Filipino dishes. Here are some of our favorite recipes:
- Sinigang na Hipon: A classic Filipino soup that is tangy and savory, often made with shell-on shrimp and vegetables.
- Seafood Paella: A flavorful rice dish where shrimp stock provides a rich and savory base for the rice.
- Noodles: Pancit Palabok has a shrimp-based sauce made with shrimp stock infused with annatto. It has a medley of toppings such as squid, shrimp, pork, chicharon, hard-boiled eggs, and green onions. Pancit Canton and Pancit Bihon are stir-fried noodle variations.
- Ginataang Hipon: Shrimp and vegetables in a rich and creamy sauce of coconut milk, garlic, and ginger. Shell-on shrimp is preferred for full flavor, but shrimp broth can also be used when using shelled shrimp.
- Stir-fries and Sautés: Shrimp stock serves as a flavorful base, adding a ton of flavor and bringing all the ingredients together.
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How to Make Shrimp Stock
- Shrimp shells and heads
- 4 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- In a saucepan, add a tablespoon of oil and lightly brown the shells and heads for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Press on the shrimp heads to extract the flavorful juices.
- Add water, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt), and some black pepper.
- Let it boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer, then discard the solids.