Save the shells for a versatile shrimp broth
If you buy shell-on shrimp or fresh shrimp with heads and shell you can make shrimp broth. It’s a very useful frozen pantry item to have for making risotto or fish soup, or infusing a seafood pasta or pan sauce with more flavor. And it only takes a half-hour to make. In fact, I never actually set out to make shrimp broth; it’s always a by-product of peeling shrimp for another dish, so it’s important to be flexible about what to put in the pot along with the peels in order to end up with a flavorful result.
With a recent batch, I didn’t have any parsley in the house but I had carrots with tops. The tops taste like a combo of carrots and parsley, so they’re perfect for any broth. Then I added a few peppercorns, some coriander seed, a couple green scallion tops and some lemon zest and juice. I could just have easily added Italian parsley, red chili flakes, celery seed (I love the taste of celery in broths), chopped onion, and some tomato sauce or fresh tomato instead of the lemon.
Unlike chicken or beef broths, you don’t want to simmer a fish broth for a long time. Twenty minutes is enough to give you a sweet, fragrant result without any “off” strong aromas. Also remember that you can make the broth to any scale even if you’ve only peeled 10 shrimp. They are pungent and have a lot of umami flavor. The broth can also be refrigerated for a few days or frozen. Using it to cook rice or even as an addition to chicken soup imparts the subtle flavor of the sea.
Peels from shelling 1 pound shrimp more or less
5 peppercorns or 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Sprig of Italian parsley or carrot tops
10 coriander seeds optional
2 green onion tops
Put shrimp shells and heads if you have them into pot. Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Squeeze juice from the lemon half into the water and throw in the squeezed half. Add the rest of the ingredients.
Bring the broth ingredients to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface if any. Lower heat so mixture simmers. Leave at gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool in pot for 10 minutes. Strain. I store the broth in small canning jars or zip bags in the freezer and use as needed.