Savoring the Sea: Crafting Outer Banks Style Shrimp Stock

In the heart of every memorable dish from the Outer Banks lies the spirit of the sea, encapsulated in the deep, rich flavors that only local ingredients can provide. Today, we’re taking you on a culinary journey to harness the essence of the Atlantic with a simple yet transformative ingredient: Outer Banks Style Shrimp Stock.

Made from the shells and heads of locally caught North Carolina shrimp, this stock is a testament to sustainable cooking and the depth of flavor that comes from respecting every part of our catch.

The Magic Begins with Local Shrimp:

The Outer Banks, with its pristine waters, offers some of the best shrimp in the world. The key to our stock lies in these locally caught treasures. Begin by saving the shells and heads of the shrimp you’ve used in other dishes. Not only does this practice honor the whole catch, but it also lays the foundation for a stock brimming with the taste of the sea.

Ingredients:

  • Shells and heads from 1 pound of locally caught North Carolina shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • Optional: a splash of dry white wine

Directions:

  1. Flavorful Beginnings: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and heads, sautéing until they turn a rich, pink color. This step not only intensifies the flavor but also fills your kitchen with the aroma of the ocean.
  2. Aromatic Vegetables: Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, cooking until they begin to soften. These vegetables complement the shrimp, adding layers of flavor to the stock.
  3. Deglaze and Simmer: (Optional) Pour a splash of dry white wine into the pot, using it to deglaze and lift any browned bits off the bottom. Then, add the cold water, bay leaf, parsley, and peppercorns, bringing everything to a gentle boil.
  4. The Simmering Sea: Reduce the heat to low and let your stock simmer uncovered for about 1 hour. As it gently bubbles away, the stock will reduce, concentrating the flavors of the Outer Banks into a liquid gold.
  5. Strain and Savor: After an hour, strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. What remains is a clear, amber liquid packed with flavor and the essence of the sea. Let it cool, and then store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Creating Outer Banks Style Shrimp Stock is more than just a step in your cooking process; it’s an act of culinary conservation and a tribute to the rich seafood heritage of North Carolina. This stock is versatile, serving as the perfect base for soups, risottos, sauces, and more, infusing each dish with the unmistakable flavor of the Outer Banks.

It’s a reminder that great cooking starts with great ingredients, and by using every part of them, we pay homage to the sea’s bounty and the coastal traditions that make our region unique.