This month, Eric and I have cut our food budget in half to try and save more of the rent we get from our exchange students. I have to admit that I’ve been slacking a bit in the food budgeting due to the excuse of needing more to feed the boys. But this month, I’m back on track, meal planning and everything. One of my favorite tricks for saving money on food is making my own homemade stock. So today, I’m super excited to share my method of using seafood shells to make a rich and flavorful seafood stock recipe.
A lot of seafood stock recipes I’ve seen use fresh shellfish, but that can get expensive. I like to stretch my seafood and think that I’d cry if I used up fresh shrimp or crab in a stock and didn’t get to eat them! I first learned how to do this from some friends I used to go crabbing with in Hawaii. They actually screamed when I threw my crab shells in the trash after dinner! Then they laughed, fished them out (fished, haha, no pun intended) and after rinsing them off taught me how to make stock from the shells. Because they were Chinese, they used Shaoxing wine in the stock, so that’s what I use although sherry or white wine are more common.
It might take a while to save up enough shells for seafood stock, but it’s worth it, trust me! You can use shrimp shells, crab shells, lobster shells, even fish bones. Once you’ve made the stock, you can use it in any recipe that calls for any kind of seafood stock. That’s right, lobster shell stock, shrimp shell stock, fish stock; whatever they ask for, you’ve got it covered right here.
There are two main steps in getting the perfect stock for a seafood soup. The first is roasting. This really enhances the flavor in the shells and makes them sweet and caramelized instead of fishy. The second step is boiling, which pulls all that amazing flavor out and into the liquid.
You may notice in the photos that I have two pans full of shells. That’s because I made a double batch! I save up my shells in gallon ziploc bags in the freezer. One bag packed full is about the 5 cups you need for this recipe. I had two bags so made two pots of stock.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering where to find recipes using seafood stock. Well, of course I have one to share with you soon (a tasty seafood risotto), but in the meantime, there are lots of bloggers out there with recipes to try. You could use this stock in Jen’s Seafood Gumbo, Matt’s Seafood Paella, or Elise’s Cioppino. I haven’t had a chance to try the recipes yet, but I trust these bloggers and have all three recipes in my meal plan for the month!
Homemade Seafood StockPrep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes Yield: about 8-12 cups
- about 5 cups (or about 1 1/2 lbs)
seafood shells (shrimp, lobster, crab, or fish skeletons)
yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered
carrots, unpeeled and cut into chunks
garlic clove, unpeeled
- 1/2 cup
Shaoxing Wine (or dry sherry, dry white wine)
- 1 TBS
sprigs of rosemary
handful of parsley
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place shells in a baking pan and roast for 5-8 minutes, until they begin to turn golden.
- Place shells in a large stockpot, cover with water no more than half an inch above the level of the shells. Add onion, carrots and garlic.
- Heat on high until small bubbles rise to the surface. Reduce heat to medium and cook for one hour. From time to time remove any scum (gray bubbly foam that stays on the surface) by scooping it off with a spoon.
- After one hour, add wine, tomato paste, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook for another 30 minutes.
- Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Refrigerate for up to two days, or pour into plastic containers with at least one inch of head room and freeze up to six months.
Approximate cost/serving: This cost really depends on what seafood shells you use and what price you got them at. For instance, shrimp shells or fish bones will be much cheaper than lobster shells. To calculate the cost, I looked at how much my seafood cost and considered using the shells in stock as 1 serving of the seafood. For example, let’s look at one lobster tail. I stretched one lobster tail to feed four people in lobster macaroni and cheese, so that lobster tail made 5 servings. I got it on sale for $8 so it was $1.60 toward the cost of my stock. Shrimp shells are much cheaper. Twenty shrimp shells were only $1! One batch of seafood stock cost me about $6, at twelve cups of stock that’s still just 50 cents a cup.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: If you eat seafood there is no other meat and it’s totally gluten free.