25 Jul 2024
Expat Cookbook: Shellfish Bisque
Expat Cookbook

Expat Cookbook: Shellfish Bisque

It is a shame that many of us just bin the shells and heads whenever we serve up a prawn or langoustine dish, especially when what we discard gives such a wonderful fragrance and taste when used to make a contemporary-Irish-inspired shellfish bisque that keeps you warm as toast in nippy March in Stockholm.


40 g butter

300 g legs, claws, heads and shells of cooked langoustines, chopped up into small pieces

200 g heads, legs and shells from uncooked mid-size prawns*

150 g shallots, peeled and finely chopped

100 g red onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

2 x 400 g tins of tomatoes, finely pureed in the tins’ juices

500 ml water

2 cubes vegetable stock

3 tsp sugar

200 ml cooking cream

3 tbsp XO cognac


Ground black pepper


Sprigs of fresh mint

Sheets of seasoned laver or nori**, julienned



* Avoid using the shells of tiger prawns as their black pigment will seep into the bisque, staining its surface with countless fiery red globules.

** Laver or nori is dried or roasted seaweed that is used for food in China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. You can get it from Asian grocers.



  1. Melt the butter in a pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots, onions and garlic, and season.
  3. Sweat everything, over a low heat, in the covered pot for 8 minutes to soften the shallots and onions.
  4. Add the bashed langoustine bits and prawn heads, legs and shells to the uncovered pot and turn the heat up to medium.
  5. Stir regularly for 10 to 20 minutes. You will see all the prawn bits turn bright red and the langoustine ones light golden.
  6. Add the juicy pureed tomatoes, stock cubes, water and sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  7. Simmer for 45 minutes in the covered pot. You must be able to smell the prawns and langoustines and taste them in the broth.
  8. Pour the shell mixture through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pot.
  9. Warm the sieved broth up again over a medium heat.
  10. Stir in cream and cognac, seasoning to taste.
  11. Heat the bisque through over a low heat.
  12. Serve warm, garnished with mint and laver, along with sesame grissini and cheddar twists on the side.

Serves 4

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