Use Your (Prawn) Head! Zero-Waste Prawn Head Oil

Merry belated Christmas! I hope, like me and my family, you enjoyed bucketloads of fresh seafood and prawns or maybe you’re having some for New Years. With all those prawns, inevitably comes lots of leftover prawn heads, tails and shells. In this recipe I’m going to show you how to get the most bang for your buck from your prawns by extracting that rich flavour of the sea into a deep red hued prawn oil. Best of all you only need 4 ingredients. Freeze your prawn bits till you have 1kg or so and simply thaw out in the fridge and drain. Inspired by Christmas, but great anytime you have prawns.

This prawn oil is great tossed through pasta or noodles – use it to flavour a stir fry, curry or cook fried rice or vegetables with it. Drizzle it on soups or seafood dishes for an extra oomph of umami prawny flavour.

My partner Mark and I filmed this recipe as a video. We’re going to try do this for our recipes from now on!


RECIPE
ZERO-WASTE PRAWN HEAD OIL

INGREDIENTS
1 small brown onion, finely diced (keep the skin and ends)
Vegetable oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
1-2kg Prawn heads, shells and tails
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: Onion skin peels and ends 

METHOD
1. Prepare the prawn heads by tearing up the shells from the head flesh you can also bash them with a mortar and pestle. Make sure there’s no poop chutes (otherwise known as the prawn poo veins)!

2. Heat a deep pot on medium heat. Add a splash of oil, then toss in your diced onion and salt. Cook for approx 5 min, stirring occasionally until softened and translucent.

3. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the prawn heads, onion skin and ends and cover them half way in vegetable oil. 

4. Cook them for approximately 30-45min, until the oil is reddy/orange in colour. Stir and crush the heads/shells with a wooden spoon periodically to release flavour.

5. Strain into jars. Allow to cool and store in the fridge. It lasts for a couple of months (if you haven’t finished it before then!).

OTHER PRAWN HEAD & SHELL USES
– Prawn stock – You could also simmer prawn heads and shells with water to make a flavourful stock. Great as a base for seafood dishes, pasta sauce, tom yum soup, ramen, risotto and as a general flavour enhancer in stir fries, veggies, curries and noodle dishes. 
– Crunchy prawn heads – Season self raising flour with salt and coat the cleaned prawn heads. Deep fry for a few minutes till crisp and golden right through. Eat with a chilli sambal or sweet chilli sauce to dip.

What are your favourite uses for prawn shells and heads?