One of the acquired skills in cooking, is learning to improvise using ingredients at hand. Fish bones can be readily obtained at any fish shop; we have used King prawns as they were given to us as part of the "mystery basket" . What is nice about cleaning one's own prawns is that one can then use the cleaned heads to make a really tasty fish stock, and the bodies used for another dish.
- Chop the fish bones onto pieces so that they can fit into the stock pot.
- Melt the butter ( or a 50/50 mixture butter & olive oil ) in a large pot over a medium heat.
- Add the fish bones and the vegetables, and cook for approx. 2 - 3 minutes, until the vegetables have brightened in colour but are not cooked through.
- Add the peppercorns and the wine and bring to the boil - NO water yet - once it has boiled , reduce to a medium heat. Let the wine -fishbone-vegetable mixture now cook at a medium heat until the ingredients in the pot have reduced by half in volume - NOW add the water and return to the boil, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface with a small tea strainer.
- Immediately lower the heat and simmer gently for no longer than 20 - 25 minutes. If you simmer the fish stock for longer - it will become bitter - 20 minutes is sufficient.
- Remove from the heat and strain the stock through a normal sieve/strainer, pressing gently down onto the solids so as to extract all the liquid.
- Return the sieved fish stock to a clean pot and taste - if you feel that the flavour is not intense enough, reduce with the lid off for another 5 - 10 minutes. Taste again - now you can season the reduced stock with salt and pepper to taste - not before, because liquid evaporates, salt does not - if adding slat during the reducing of the fish stock, it will more than likely end up much too salty.
- Into another clean saucepan/ pot, add 45 g butter, the 4 extra chopped shallots or 1 large onion finely chopped (if shallots not available)
- Sautee finely chopped onions with about three saffron strands until the onions are glazed. Add the 45 g flour and make a "blond roux" - cook the butter and flour together until golden brown.
- Now add the freshly prepared strained fish stock , and whisk briskly with a balloon whisk to prevent lumps form forming. The soup should have the consistency of pouring cream.
- Bring the soup to the boil - now add the deveined, cleaned prawn bodies to the soup, ( the heads of which made up the stock. ) , as well as one dozen freshly shucked Oysters. (Add both with all their juices for flavour).
- Remove from heat, as the prawns and oysters cook very quickly in the boiling liquid - once the soup is off the direct heat, add 200 ml fresh cream, some Noilly Prat (approx. 2 Tablespoons) , and check for seasoning - is there enough salt and pepper.
- Serve in a soup bowl with a twirl of fresh cream and a dash of cayenne pepper on top, two cooked prawns on the edge of the bowl get the tastebuds going, not to mention the smell of a most flavoursome and unexpectedly delicious oyster and prawn bisque.