Summer is undoubtedly the season that inspires seafood on menus everywhere from holiday homes to five star restaurants. We foraged some amazing fresh seafood this year and indulged in a feast or two ourselves. However at the end of these feasts we’re left wondering; what do we do with all the shells and waste? The bin is not the only answer. There is a solution that can keep giving for many meals to come. It is prawn oil.
Don’t worry, we were dubious at first too. But when you have your first encounter of freshly made pasta with garlic, chilli, parsley and a drizzle of prawn oil the flavour will sweep you away and you will wonder why no-one’s told you about this before now. Just like epic bacon – it’s life changing. Other uses for it are drizzled over fresh scrambled eggs with salmon, the finishing touch to linguine marinara or splashed into asian noodle dishes.
So here’s how to make it:
In a large pan, saute 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and 1 stalk of celery. Add 1 kg of shellfish scraps (prawn heads, crab shells or lobster shells). Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste, a sprig of thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 litre of olive oil. Cook on a medium – high heat for about 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and cook for a further 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The shells should look crunchy and the smell should be drawing inquisitive neighbours by the end of the three hours. Allow the pot to sit and cool for a further 2 hours. Then strain through a sieve. When straining, sit something heavy on top of the shells to ensure you extract every precious drop. Sadly this is the end for the shells. Discard them to the bin (or the chooks). The liquid should be then be passed through a fine chinois twice (minimum). Once completely chilled, package into a sealed jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. As it’s oil, it will solidify in the fridge, so remove it ahead of time when you wish to use some.
A little goes a long way and your imagination is the only boundary to it’s uses.