If you buy shrimp with their heads and aren’t going to cook them whole, then you should make shrimp stock. You can also make shrimp stock with just the tail shells, if you don’t have the heads, though the stock will be less rich.
Source: My own recipe, based on generic recipe available from many sources.
- Shrimp heads (amount is variable)
- Shrimp tail shells (amount is variable)
- cold water, enough to cover ingredients
- (optional) aromatics, such as onions, parsley stems, garlic cloves, bay leaf, celery, carrots, etc
Lightly rinse the shrimp before cleaning them. Save the heads and tail shells when you are cleaning shrimp (don’t re-rinse). Discard the intestines. The stock should be made immediately after you clean the shrimp, so that the shells are fresh but if you need to you can store them frozen for a few weeks. Add the shells to a heavy soup pot which holds them comfortably. You can add all of the same aromatics and flavorings that you can add to chicken stock, if you have them (they are okay to omit). You can also use many of you vegetable peelings (onion skins, garlic skins, celery ends, tomato skin, etc). Cover the ingredients with cold water.
Bring to a boil, and keep at a bare simmer for 20 minutes to 1 hour (I usually simmer for 30 minutes). Skim any foam that rises to the top.
Strain through a fine meshed strainer and discard the solids. Let the strained stock sit on the counter top for at least 10 minutes so that any remaining particles settle on the bottom. Pour off the clear part of the stock and discard the cloudy portion on the bottom containing particles. If the stock isn’t as strong as you like it, you can simmer it down until it is the concentration you want.
The shrimp stock can be frozen until you want to use it. The stock is unsalted, so you should adjust salt to taste any recipes that you use it in.