My wife doesn’t like eating shrimp still in the shell. As much as I try to convince her that the shell is where all the flavor is, she just doesn’t want to be bothered. Her loss, my gain. Every time we eat shrimp, I peel them before cooking them and stash the shells in the freezer. Once I have an adequate amount, I use them to make shrimp oil. The shrimp oil can be used to garnish any seafood that you are serving up. Drizzle it on paella, or over perfectly grilled head-on prawns.
I can’t take credit for this idea. I adapted this recipe from one taught to me by a chef I worked for. But I believe it can eventually be traced back to the shrimp grits dish served at the late great WD~50.
Just beware that shellfish is an allergen, so the oil should be used judiciously and your guests should be aware of its presence.
I present this recipe to you as more of a loose guideline than an actual recipe. Feel free to adjust as you see fit and scale down as necessary.
Shrimp Oil – yields 1 qt
1 qt shrimp shells
1 qt vegetable or other neutral oil
1/2 cup carrot, very small dice
2 clove garlic
2 sprig thyme
- Everybody in the pool! Put all ingredients into an appropriately sized pot and heat until the ingredients start to bubble.
- Turn down the heat until you can maintain a light and steady bubbling.
- Cook for at least an hour. The shrimp shells should be crispy and brittle and the carrots should be shriveled but not burnt. (caution – oil is hotter than you think)
- Strain through a coffee filter or at least a fine meshed strainer.
- Let cool and store in fridge or freezer.
Pro-tip: throw some salt on the shells and eat them like chips, as I am literally doing this very second.