Attack of the killer shrimp

Yesterday I sent my honey to the seafood market to buy shrimp to make the Town Hall barbecue shrimp, whose recipe I beat to death on this blog yesterday. I asked him to get shrimp with the heads on, since I needed them for the stock, and explained what size I wanted. He soon called me from the market to tell me that the only shrimp with their heads at the market were very large and asked what I wanted him to do. “Get the big ones,” I said, since they’re key to a good stock, but I was totally shocked when I was confronted by huge monsters with big blue legs.

You see, where I come from (the Texas Gulf Coast), shrimp look like these. I mean sure, I often buy them with the heads on, but they don’t look that different when I buy them.

But D came home with these crazy beasties.

I should have taken the picture next to a ruler so you can see how truly out-sized they are, but you can get a little bit of sense from seeing one perched on my stock pot.

So apparently everyone else knows that this is what a freshwater shrimp looks like. Everyone but me, who grew up south of Houston a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where we could buy Gulf shrimp straight off the boats.

The verdict?  A little scary-looking but very tasty. Despite their size, most of that size is in the heads, so they make a very rich and delicious stock.

I detailed the recipe for a shrimp stock in yesterday’s post, but for those who are visually inclined, or don’t get too hung on precise proportions and just want to throw everything in a pot and go to town, here’s the short pictorial guide to making a great shrimp stock.

Cut up some onions, celery, carrots, and lemon, and throw them in your stockpot. Add some peppercorns and bay leaves.

Remove the heads and shells from a pound or two of shrimp and rinse in a colander.

Throw the whole mess into the pot with the veggies and cover with water.

Bring a simmer, simmer for about 45 minutes, and then strain. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Having a rich shrimp stock made a world of difference in my barbecue shrimp, and I can’t wait to see what else I can sneak it into.

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