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Possibly The Best Prawn Bisque Of All Time

Ingredients

Serves 8

I've divided this into 4 distinct lists of ingredients. Also, apart from the usual utensils for cooking, you will need a stick blender and a hand whisk. You'll also use quite a few pots and pans, bowls to set aside ingredients, so make sure you have space.

#1 – The Bouillon
500g fresh green or banana prawns, shell and head intact
3/4 cup oil, olive oil is preferred but vegetable oil will do
2 litres of fish or seafood stock (or use chicken or vegetable stock — Note that chicken or vegetarian stock is usually quite salty and you might need to you 1 litre of stock with 1 litre of water instead to make it less salty).
1 cup white wine
5 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp paprika

#2 – The Vegetables Sauté:
25g of butter (there’s more butter needed later too)
2 carrots, dice
4 stalks celery, dice
4 medium whole shallots, dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed roughly

#3 – The Roux:
125g of butter
5 tbsp flour
2 tbsp tarragon, fresh chopped (or 3 tbsp of dry tarragon flakes)
5 tbsp brandy

#4 – The Finale:
1 cup thick or heavy cream
black pepper
salt

Method

I developed this recipe from years of making lobster bisque for Christmas, friend's birthdays, dinner parties. Time and time again, people will ask me for the recipe, and every time I'd have to rack my brain to figure out exactly what I'd done. I like to vary my recipe for the occasion, turning the spiciness up or down, using more celery, more garlic, more brandy, and so on. But eventually, I codified my most common recipe into (in my opinion) the best recipe for bisque that still stays true to its French origins without being too complicated. And because Lobsters cost a fortune and can be hard to come by, I eventually changed the recipe to use prawns instead.

So if ever you needed a dish to really 'wow' your guests, or if you wanted to take home the honour of 'best dish' at a competitive pot luck, so long as your guests can eat seafood, this recipe will take home the prize by a landslide.

#1 – Making The Bouillon

Add the oil into the pot, and sauté the prawn heads, tails and shells for a few minutes until they turn red and you get a nice aroma.

Pour in the fish stock and white wine and bring it to a boil. Then let it simmer for a while. The longer you let this simmer, the tastier the bisque will become. You may have to replace the water in the pot occasionally. If you are in a hurry, 15 minutes of simmering is probably good enough. If you have time, let it slow boil for hours, checking only to replace water.

When you are ready, strain the head and shells out of the liquid, and dispose of them. You are left now with only the broth.


#2 – Making The Sauté

You can do this while #1 is simmering.

In a deep frying pan, add the 25g of butter over medium heat.

Add all the vegetables and sauté until they become limp and cooked. The only vegetable that will not seem cooked is the carrots, but that is fine.

Add all the cooked vegetables into the broth from #1.


#3 – Making the Roux

In a small pot, place the butter, flour and finely chopped tarragon over a low heat.

You may add a bit of water if you notice it getting too clumpy or uneven.

Whisk until smooth.

Then turn off the heat and add the brandy slowly while whisking. Do this until it is even and smooth.


#4 – The Finale

By now, the resulting broth from completing #1 and #2 will be ready.

Add the Roux from #3 to the broth and stir until the entire mixture thickens evenly.

Take it off the stove for a moment.

Using the stick blender blend all the contents in the pot into a smooth even liquid. Take care when doing this as it could splash around if you are not careful.

Once the liquid is smooth, even and thick, place it back onto the stove on medium heat, and add the cream.

Stir in the cream until the colour is once again even.

Bring it just to boil, then turn off the heat.

Your bisque is complete!


#5 – Serving!

Ladle the bisque into bowls, and garnish the top with the cooked prawn flesh you make earlier. I know… I know… you’ve probably forgotten about them. After all, it was probably hours ago that you set them aside.

Provide cracked pepper and salt to taste.

Bisque also goes well with baguettes or garlic bread for dipping, so have them on standby.

Enjoy all the praise from your guests. You deserve it after all that work.

Posted on July 6, 2013

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