I guess I’m true to my Finlay roots: our Scottish family creed is (no joke) “Not Too Much.” We were raised to used every part of the hog, so to speak. Waste not, want not. In that spirit, when my composter is full, I tend bag up and reserve the ends of the celery and green onions and carrots all week long. On the weekend, I make a stock, which I have found to be a wonderful meditation. You really can’t go wrong and it’s relaxing to have something to be poking at for awhile, watching the transformation. Plus you save five bucks buying storemade-stock.
I’ve been freezing my raw shrimp shells, cooked lobster shells (there was a big $5 sale at HEB a couple of weeks ago) and crab claws (Sprouts on a quick sale discount) for about a month – all of which is overtaking my freezer space. So today I’m making a homemade seafood stock. I’ll use the stock sometime in the next week or two to make Mermaid Soup.
1 stick of butter
shells from shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels and other seafood (salmon skins, snapper heads, etc)
2 cups roughly chopped onion
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
glug of white wine
1 tbsp kosher salt
sprinkle of peppercorns
1 bay leaf
(in my double batch today, I also have cilantro stems, onion skins, asparagus stems, 2 lemons (halved), and the butt end of a red cabbage – basically eyeball it to be as many veggies as shells).
Warm the butter in a big stockpot over medium heat. Add the shells and vegetables and saute for 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1-2 minutes more. Cover with water and a glug of wine (one glug equals about half a cup). Add the salt, peppercorns and whatever else you think would be good. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour or an hour and a half (however much time you have), poking at it with a wooden spoon occasionally. When you think it’s time, strain it through a metal strainer or sieve, pressing all the juice out. The color will range between a shiny golden color to a deep rich brown (mine has a purple-ish tinge today because of the red cabbage). Let it cool before you put it in a good freezer container (a big ziplock works for me). You’re going to want to taste it and you won’t think it’s salty enough. THAT’S FINE. Trust me. You can add all the salt you want when you make it into a soup.
Lisabella’s Bistro in Port Aransas, TX has been serving Mermaid Soup for as long as we’ve been going there. It’s the best soup in the world. I’m not even kidding. The description on the menu reads, “Coconut, Curry, Lobster, Secrets.” I’ve been trying to decipher their “secrets” for 15 years. I’ve gotten really close. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
2 tbsp coconut oil
About a quart of seafood stock
2 cans coconut milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz green curry paste
1 small potato, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded and finely diced
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp curry powder
½ cup clamshell mushrooms, separated
½ lb cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
2 lobster tails, cooked, and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Heat your coconut oil in the bottom of your soup pot. Add the shallots and ¼ tsp salt. Give it a good stir until the shallots are soft. Add the curry paste, and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, and bell pepper and cook until soft. Pour in your stock, butter and coconut milk. Cook over low heat, covered for about 30 minutes. Season with curry powder and salt and pepper. Add the lobster and the shrimp and mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes more. Serve immediately with cilantro and lime.