One of the classic ways to use shellfish stock is in a nice, hearty bisque. The subject of which is usually lobster, crab, or any of the “fancier” shellfish. Which is a shame, because shrimp come in many, many forms and some of them are just as tasty as lobster. For example, we are quite smitten with the Argentinian Red Shrimp that Trader Joe’s sees fit to stock in their flash frozen section every once in a while. They’re plump, sweet, and more on the langostine/lobstery side of things than a shrimp should be. Plus, they’re much easier on the wallet and require less prep time (open the bag and dump!) than an ornery lobster. What’s not to like?
Based off of the AR Special Lobster Bisque recipe with some severe tweaking. Try the original once the way it’s supposed to go, because what I do below takes a much twistier and stranger path to the finish…
The dry ingredients above are what I combined to make the Creole-ish seasoning for this bisque. I based it off of the Gumbo Pages Seasoning Blend but then strayed a little as I looked at my own pantry. I used this seasoning blend instead of the portions that were given in the original bisque recipe since it included a lot of what I had but also left some things out. Much like my seafood stock, the seasoning mixture varies every time I make it, based on what I have on hand and the proportions of each. To get started, though, mix together in a bowl: 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 2 tablespoons dried basil, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon celery salt, 5 tablespoons sweet paprika. My version isn’t nearly as peppery and spicy as most because I don’t do well with very spicy food. So adjust to your preference.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat.
Add one minced onion and a cup of chopped celery and let soften for a few minutes. As usual, I have used rehydrated dried chopped onion to avoid a mess. Then sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, stirring while you do so that it doesn’t clump.
As the flour begins to brown, add in the seafood stock. It would probably have been nice if it were defrosted already, but I’m not shy about tossing in frozen blocks and letting it melt. If anything, it gives the rest of the stuff time to cook and meld. That block was about 3 cups of stock.
Because I used more stock than the 1.5 cups called for in the original recipe, I had to add a bit more flour to thicken it up.
Here you see the stock dissolving pretty well. Meanwhile, I attack any lumps trying to form with my whisk. Add in a teaspoon of salt here and start tasting to see that you’re getting the sodium level you like. Remember that this is all happening on medium-low heat.
Once the mix started to bubble again, I added in the bag of frozen shrimp. Didn’t bother to defrost the shrimp either, so just allowed for that in my cooking time instead. Keep on stirring. The mixture will get browner.
When the mixture looked heated through and bubbly again, I added in 4.5 cups of milk and half a cup of cream (or cream substitute, in my case).
Lastly, start sprinkling in that seasoning mixture to taste. I ended up using two tablespoons, I think.
Keep stirring and letting it simmer. Cooking longer only makes it better — it’ll still take less time to make than your typical 2+ hour bisque. You’ll be able to see when it starts thickening. Once it’s at the seasoning and thickness level of your preference, you’re good to go! Serve with crusty bread and sprinkle a dash more seasoning mix over the top to give it some color. This bisque actually reheats very well — letting it sit overnight in the fridge and meld makes the seafood flavor more pronounced.