2.063 Tomato-Basil Shrimp Bisque


9 (Wed) March 2011

Tomato-Basil Shrimp Bisque


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

w W and DJ

Bisque is a French dish.  Soup, traditionally made with shellfish, usually thick, always creamy.
On-line, recipes for bisque seem to differ in nearly every aspect.  Lobster, crab, shrimp, or some combination thereof?  Shells or no shells?  If shells, strain them out in the end or pulverize/puree to incorporate them into the final product?  Or, omit the crustaceans altogether and go with a vegetable, such as zucchini or bell pepper?  Tomatoes, probably, but in the form of paste, sauce, juice, or fresh?  Mire poix?  Fish or chicken stock or water?  Wine or brandy or neither?  Rice or roux as a thickening agent or none at all?  Spices?  Cream?

My first attempt at bisque took bits of various recipes.  Shrimp (frozen) and shells (fresh).  Tomato paste.  Mire poix.  Shrimp and chicken stock.  No wine or brandy.  Basmati rice.  Fresh basil, dried oregano, dried paprika, black and white pepper, salt, a touch of sugar.  After 1 hour of slow simmering, at which point the soup was already quite thick, I set aside the shrimp and pureed the rest then strained it to remove the remaining solid bits.  Back on the stove, I added a touch of heavy cream and milk to smooth things out.  Garnished with a few whole shrimp set aside before the puree.

It was awesome.  As noted yesterday, our nanny had used the fresh shrimp intended for the bisque, so I was forced to use frozen shrimp that I had on hand, along with the shells reserved from yesterday.  Nevertheless, the shrimp flavor, derived from a combination of pureed shrimp and pulverized shrimp shells and shrimp stock and whole shrimp, was intense. The tomato paste and fresh basil added zing.  Alas, I thought the addition of cream at the end killed the liveliness of the broth. Another flaw was that the soup had a slightly grainy texture, my blender not being powerful enough to completely pulverize the shells and this home cook being too lazy to strain them through a cheesecloth as required.  Thus, I’ll make some changes next time (e.g., no cream, no shells in the puree), but I was overwhelmingly satisfied with this first attempt.

The dish is my official entry for the 3rd instalment of in-sync cooking with Lisa.  This time, instead of a specific dish (see 2.050 Chicken Parmigiana with Black Olives and Spaghetti) or a specific recipe (see 2.056 Grilled Sake Steak with Curry-Corn Rice), we agreed on a specific ingredient, à la Iron Chef: shrimp. To accommodate respective schedules, we also agreed on a general time-frame: “by the end of the week.”  I had time mid-week to complete mine. I now await Lisa’s.  Allez cuisine!

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)

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