Jan 2, 2015

Discover the Benefit of Buying Whole Shrimp - Lemony Shrimp Risotto Using Homemade Shrimp Stock

It's convenient and hassle free when buying already peeled and deveined shrimp from the grocery store. However, the shells are not just merely rubbish. When used properly, they can enhance the flavor of your seafood dishes, doesn't matter western or Asian cuisine. 

Keep reading this recipe below, you'll see how I store and utilize the shrimp heads. Perhaps you can give it a try next time. Instead of buying prepared seafood, maybe pick up some fresh whole shrimp at the market in the future.

Lemony shrimp risotto with homemade shrimp stock -

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 cup of Acquerello, Arborio, or other high starch white rice
  • 3 cups of homemade shrimp stock
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 12 shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Some parsley (optional) 

Shrimp stock:

  • 20 shrimp heads
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 7 cups of water


When I buy whole shrimp, if not cooking them with shells intact, I'd like to peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp then store in the freezer for future use. Most of the times the shells are discarded but the heads are kept for making stock. Just be sure to use a scissor and cut away the pointy thing sticking out the head called "rostrum." Even though the shrimp are dead, but their body armor remains feisty. 

Let's start with the stock, which can be made ahead and stored in the freezer up to one month.

Drizzle some olive oil to a big non-stick pot and add in peeled, cubed onion along with some salt. Turn to medium high heat and cook till the onion turns translucent.

Peel and chop the carrot into large cubes, also chop the celery into same sized pieces. Toss both into the pot and give it a quick stir, cook about 2 minutes. 

Add in defrosted shrimp heads and crush them with a spatula, so the flavors can get released more easily to the stock. 

Pour in 7 cups of water, bring to a boil then keep it at a slight simmer for about one hour. Skim off the foam floating on the surface during the process. In the end, the liquid should be reduced by at least half, leaving you condensed and aromatic stock. Drain and even sift the stock if needed. Cool down before storing in the freezer. 

As for the risotto, peel and chop half of the onion into small cubes. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a nonstick pot and turn to medium high heat. Add in cubed onion along with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. 

Add in about a dozen peeled and deveined shrimp and cook till half way through. Scoop it out and set aside for later use.

In the same pot, add in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once it melts a little, pour in one cup of rice and stir gently, make sure every grain has been coated with butter. About one minute.

Pour in 1 cup of shrimp stock and 1/3 cup of white wine. Cook till the liquid has almost been absorbed by the rice then add in a few ladles of stock again. The key here is to add in the liquid a little bit at a time instead of pouring everything into the pot all at once. Check the texture of the grains towards the end, cook till your preferred consistency. However, the recipe here yields al dente textured rice.

Zest and juice one lemon. Add both to the pot when the risotto is almost ready. Mix well and pour the previously stir fried shrimp back to the pot. Quick stir and turn off the heat, the shrimp should be just cooked through when the risotto is ready to serve.

Plate the risotto and grate some Parmigiano Reggiano all over for extra savory flavor. Garnish with finely chopped parsley if desired. 

On a side note, Riesling kabinett pairs well with lemony shrimp risotto in case you want to dress up this semi-fancy meal. 


  1. Yesss....shrimps heads are precious and it is best to make shrimp stock out of them :)