How To Make Shrimp Stock

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Shrimp stock is a great way to utilize shrimp shells and heads that would otherwise be discarded. It provides a naturally sweet and complex base of flavors that enhances the overall taste of soups and seafood dishes in Vietnamese cuisine as well as other cuisines.

Simmer shrimp heads and shells in a stock pot to make shrimp stock.

Soups and broths, usually in the form of vegetable soups and tomato soups, are an essential part of traditional Vietnamese meals. We also frequently eat noodle soups. As a result, my family places a strong emphasis on good homemade stock. It adds depth and natural sweetness to dishes, which sugar or artificial flavorings simply cannot match.

We can use a variety of base ingredients to make stock depending on the dish it accompanies. Some examples are chicken bones, pork bones, fish heads and bones (or small anchovies), and shrimp.

a tray of raw shrimp shells and heads.
Raw shrimp shells and heads

Today, I’ll share the basic shrimp stock we use for Vietnamese soups such as this sour shrimp soup, and you can also adapt it to use for other seafood soups, stews, sauces, and more. Even after the shrimp meat is removed, the shells and heads still retain plenty of flavor.

In this recipe, we will suggest two ways to prepare the shrimp stock. Both involve cooking the shells and heads to bring out the flavors before simmering. You can choose either to sauté them on the stovetop or roast in the oven. It will turn out flavorful either way. Depending on what you want to make, you may choose to add aromatics such as ginger, garlic and onion to the stock.

a tray of roasted shrimp shells and heads for the stock.
Roasted shrimp shells and heads

Next time, when you’re making dishes that will require just the meat (like this sautéed shrimp with zucchini, shrimp toast, chạo tôm, or shrimp pasta), don’t throw away the shells and heads. Roast or sauté them, then store in the freezer until you want to make the stock. The stock itself can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for several months.

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a pot of shrimp stock with heads and shells being simmered.

Shrimp Stock

Shrimp stock is a great way to utilize shrimp shells and heads that would otherwise be discarded. It provides a naturally sweet and complex base of flavors for soups, sauces and seafood dishes.
Author: Sophie
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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 cups

Ingredients
 

  • cooking oil (only for Sauté method)
  • 8-10 oz raw shrimp heads and shells (from about 16-18 medium to large shrimp)
  • cups water
  • teaspoons salt

Instructions
 

Method 1

  • Place a pot over medium heat and once the pot is hot, add cooking oil to thinly coat the bottom.
  • Add the shrimp shells and heads. Increase the heat and sauté until they are browned and smell flavorful, add the water.
  • Add salt and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
  • Discard the shrimp shells and heads. The stock is ready to use right away, or you can let it cool down before storing it in the fridge for several days or several months in the freezer.

Method 2

  • Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃). Place the shrimp shells and heads on a baking tray. Roast for about 15 minutes or until they are browned and smell flavorful.
  • Bring the water to a boil and then add the roasted shrimp shells and heads as well as the salt. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
  • Discard the shrimp shells and heads. The stock is ready to use right away, or you can let it cool down before storing it in the fridge for several days or several months in the freezer.
Course: Noodle and Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
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