Whenever I have the chance to buy prawns shell-on — or, better yet, head-on — I take it. Deveining and then cooking prawns in their shells is the tastiest way to go, and there's something very satisfactory about peeling them just before popping them into your mouth. But their journey shouldn't end there; the shells still have more to give.
Photos by Claire Lower.
Garlic skins have always been my least favourite part of peeling garlic. They either stick to my fingers, or float about the kitchen, carried by slight breezes before making their home on random appliances. But I resent them no more, my dears, because it turns out they make a kick-arse broth.
As with most scraps and skins, this supposed trash can be used to make a really ace stock. Even after they have been cooked, the shells still have a lot of flavour in their chitinous walls, and all you have to do is simmer them.
Lucky for me (and you), I just happened to have a bag o' shells in my freezer that were left over from a prawn dinner. To unlock their stock-seasoning powers, I returned them to an aqueous environment, tossing them in a pot and covering them tap water. (I used three cups of water for 10 shells.) I then brought the pot to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and let it hang out for a bit.
After five minutes, a noticeable amount of prawny flavour had been transferred to the liquid, but 15 minutes made for a very seafood-forward stock.
The shells had a little bit of parsley still clinging to them. I was ok with that.
I then strained out the shells and marveled at my golden prawny elixir.
Though the shells alone were enough to make a flavorful stock, there's no reason you couldn't toss in some aromatics such as shallots or garlic, a bay leaf, and a few peppercorns. A splash of white wine would also be quite welcome. Once you have the flavours just how you want them, you can use your prawn stock as a ramen broth, as the base for risotto, or in a seafood stew. You know, the usual things you'd use stock for.
This is part of Eating Trash With Claire, a Lifehacker series where Claire Lower convinces you to transform your kitchen scraps into something edible and delicious.