French Cooking: Prawn Bisque (Bisque de Crevettes)
The classic French method for making a bisque requires pushing the shellfish through a tamis, or drum sieve. This is much simpler and the result is just as smooth.
- 675 g/1½ lb small or medium cooked prawns in the shell
- 25 ml/1½ bsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 2 litres/ 3 1⁄3 pints/8 cups water
- A few drops of lemon juice
- 30 ml/2 tbsp tomato purée
- Bouquet garni
- 55 g/2 oz/4 tbsp butter
- 55 g/2 oz/1⁄3 cup plain flour
- 45-60 ml/3-4 tbsp brandy
- 150 ml/1⁄4 pint/ 2⁄3 cup whipping cream
- Salt and white pepper
- Remove the heads from the prawns and peel away the shells, reserving the heads and shells for the stock. Chill the peeled prawns.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the prawn heads and shells and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently, until they start to brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, carrot and celery and fry gently, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the onions start to soften.
- Add the water, lemon juice, tomato purée and bouquet garni. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Strain the -stock through a sieve.
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until just golden, stirring occasionally. Add the brandy and gradually pour in about half of the prawn stock, whisking vigorously until smooth, then whisk in the remaining liquid. Season with salt, if necessary, and white pepper. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Strain the soup into a clean saucepan. Add the cream and a little extra lemon juice to taste, then stir in most of the reserved prawns and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot. Serve at once, garnished with the reserved prawns.