Tips for Tuesday | Roasted Shrimp Powder | Maggie C Perkins
Granny Mac also had plastic bottles into which the leftover restaurant condiment packets were emptied. She had an entire bottle of Roy Rogers' barbecue sauce in the fridge, yet I never remember actually going to Roy Rogers. She handed over aluminum pot pie tins for my brother and me to create a backyard 'kitchen' of creatively garnished mudpies, and near-emptied dish detergent bottles were our bubbles. And then our squirt guns.
We used old furniture casters as cars, and our racetrack was the oval, braided rug in the back room. When clouds loomed, she set out large empty tubs in the back yard to collect rainwater (back before air pollution was even a thing) for soft hair and softer clothes.
So when folks ask me why I resist just throwing stuff away, well I trace it back to that stash of aluminum foil. My grandmother grew up in the depression-- the big one before the others, and she was clever and practical. There was no reduce reuse recycle in her homekeeping lexicon. She needed no ad campaign to encourage her thrift. She learned it from her own mother, a widow farmer raising two children in tight times.
I doubt shrimp was on their menu very often, if at all, but thanks to the thrifty ways she handed down to her granddaughter, I can justify the budget splurge by not wasting one. little. bit. Beyond stock and bone broth, which shrimp shells will find their way into frequently, I have another little trick to help shrimp yield its full flavor, and value.
Roasted Shrimp Powder
On their way to a Shrimp and Mirliton dressing (that I hope to share before the next big holiday feast), these shrimp were deveined with shells on by simply using a sharp paring knife along the curve of the shrimp's back, and removing the black trail of....stuff, without disturbing the shells.
I laid them out on a cast iron, or other oven safe pan in a single layer and seasoned them lightly with my go-to homemade seasoning salt. Use your favorite blend like Tony Chachere's or any other Cajun seasoning, or go rogue and sprinkle on your own mixture of salt, pepper, spices, etc, or use none at all.
In a 350℉ preheated oven, roast shrimp for 3 or so minutes or until shells remove easily from shrimp flesh. Let cool to handle, then peel shrimp, reserving shells. Send your peeled shrimp off to their final destination for cooking, concentrating on the shells, only, at this stage. Return shells to pan in a single layer, reduce heat to 300℉, and roast about 45 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes.
When cool to the touch, transfer shells in small portions to an electric spice or coffee grinder. (Additional tip: keep flavors clear by cleaning your grinder frequently-- I grind rice and discard, and wipe any additional residue with a slice of bread.)
Collect your shrimp powder in a clean, reusable jar. Keep refrigerated and use within a few months for the sake of freshness.
Besides being a jarful of briny beauty, shrimp powder, or rather the shells from which it is made, is primarily chitin, also called chitosan, which is a source of organic fiber. Along with other purported benefits, chitin has been suggested as a food supplement to control cholesterol and triglycerides.
Use your roasted shrimp powder anytime you'd like a little taste of the sea. It seasons soups, stews, curries, and stir fries. It punches up bone broth and stocks for a quick snack. It tastes great simply sprinkled over salads and sides. It creates unique flavors for sauces, and can be used to make compound butters with the addition of your favorite herbs, or simply solo.
So tell me, what are your favorite homemade thrift tales? What do you use/do/create to extend value and save the budget? I'd love to share your suggestions in upcoming Tips for Tuesday posts. Comment below, reply via social media, or shoot me an email. I can't wait to hear your hints and tips!