We don't have fish or shellfish very often. Not because we don't like it, we do. I just don't have a great deal of confidence cooking seafood. I splurged in February, using a gift certificate to a local seafood store and some of my own hard earned money and made a special crab leg dinner. But these were not ordinary crab legs, they were Bristol Bay Red King crab legs from Alaska. Red King is the most prized crab in the word, hailed for their sweet succulent flavor and jumbo size, not to mention the snowy white meat. And when I say jumbo, I mean jumbo. I have never seen legs this size before, so long they didn't even fit in our largest pot. We feasted on baked potatoes, a salad and ate crab until we couldn't eat anymore. I froze all the shells and a few days later I used the shells to make crab stock which I also froze. This week I used the frozen stock to make Crab Bisque. Bisque's are involved, time consuming soups, so making the stock ahead of time is a real time saver! When I was called upon to help provide some meals for two friends who had surgery this week I was grateful to have the stock tucked away in the freezer, ready to be used.
You can make this stock in advance and freeze it using any seafood shells (shrimp, crab, lobster)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups shells from shrimp, crab or lobster, or a combination of shells.
2 cups chopped onions
2 carrots, unpeeled, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup good white wine
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
10 sprigs thyme
Warm olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the seafood shells, onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 quarts water, the wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, simmer for an hour. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have about a quart of stock, make up the difference with wine or water. Freeze if not using immediately.
You can use any shellfish you want.
*1 pound of cooked crab meat, in bite size pieces, reserve shells.
4 cups seafood stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup rice flour
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cream, half and half or milk, hot but not boiling! (I used cream)
I used a combination of canned crab meat and fresh. Because I was pureeing the soup I figured the quality of the most of the crab did not matter so I used 13 ounces of good canned crab and about a pound of fresh crab removed from legs which I steamed, reserving the shells. If you want a more economic soup skip the fresh crab in pieces you put in at the end.
Place the seafood shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. If you don't have four cups, add water or wine.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add leeks and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, until tender. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add cayenne and canned crab and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes. Add the Cognac and cook one minute, the add the sherry and cook 3 minutes longer. Transfer the crab and leeks to a blender or food processor and process until coarsely pureed. I am fortunate to have a vitmix and used this to puree my seafood.
In the same pot, melt the butter, add the rice flour and cook for at least a minute. Slowly add the cream stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon to make a roux, then add the seafood stock, slowly, thickening as you go along. Add the pureed crab, tomato paste, salt and pepper, puree again if you want a velvety smooth soup. Return to the pot and add the fresh cooked lumps of crab. Serve immediately. If you make this ahead of time, reheat slowly, stirring often over medium heat.