Crustacean Oil

Basic Recipe 18

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    750 ml

Appears in

Season to Taste

By Liam Tomlin

Published 2005

  • About


  • 700g Fresh prawn or lobster shells and heads, uncooked
  • 750ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g Tomato paste
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 Red chillies, split with seeds removed
  • 12 Crushed white peppercorns
  • 12 Crushed coriander seeds
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 Dried bay leaves
  • pinch Maldon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 130°C. Clean and chop the shells into small pieces. Heat 50ml extra virgin olive oil in a roasting tray and add the shells. Transfer to the oven and roast the shells for 1-1½ hours. Stir frequently until they become dry, brittle and deeply coloured. Stir the tomato paste into the shells. Return to the oven and continue to roast for a further 15 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the paste from burning. Remove from the oven and add the garlic, star anise, chillies, peppercorns, coriander seeds, herbs, a pinch of Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix through the roasted shells. Spoon the mix into a sterilized kilner jar and pour the extra virgin olive oil over the shells to fill the jar.

Place the sealed jar in a large pot and surround with a tea towel to prevent it from knocking against the side. Pour in enough water to come up the side of the jar. Bring the water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the jar from the water and allow to cool before refrigerating. The longer the crustacean oil is refrigerated, the more intense the flavour and colour. When ready to use, pass the oil through a sieve lined with a double-layer of muslin and discard the shells.


For an intensely coloured and flavoured oil, fresh crustacea shells are preferable. However, cooked shells may also be used which will result in a less intense flavour and colour.