Potted Shrimp

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cotedupy

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This is a British delicacy and extremely simple to make, though I'll go into some detail because it's worth getting these things correct eh! Even if it will probably be of little use to anyone outside the UK and northern Europe because you only get this kind of small 'Brown Shrimp' here.

The quantities listed at the end are a guesstimate to make about two starter size pots or one main course size, and you can just up them as required. In the pics I'm making 3 main course size ones.

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Brown Shrimp, sometimes called 'Morecambe Bay Shrimp' in the UK, are very small and intensely flavoured shrimp/prawn things. They're relatively cheap to buy with the shells on, but quite expensive to buy unshelled because they have to be done by hand and it's a somewhat delicate operation, there aren't machines that can do it. This what they look like peeled, about the size of a fingernail:

IMG_E2254.JPG



Potting shrimps is effectively a method of preservation using spiced butter. You can use other spices in addition, but the four main ones are; pepper (ideally white though black will do), nutmeg and/or mace, and cayenne pepper. Mace is like a hot or peppery version of nutmeg - it's from the same plant - so if you use just nutmeg then you'll want to up the amount of cayenne, if using just mace then less cayenne:

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If you're eating them straight away you don't need to clarify the butter, but Potted Shrimps can keep in the fridge for up to a month if you do. To clarify butter you heat it up to a low simmer and scoop the solids off the top. You can see in the vid below that when the butter is only just melted the solids are on the bottom, as it starts to bubble they rise to the top. Sieving or straining can help with this too:




Then add your spices to the butter and keep simmering at a very low heat. This is the time to taste and adjust your seasoning / spicing accordingly. If you use salted butter you won’t need any more salt, brown shrimp are quite salty. Depending on exactly how much spice you use it'll look something like this after about 10 mins:

IMG_E2270.JPG



Then add your shrimps. Brown shrimp are almost always sold cooked, traditionally boiled in seawater on board the boat immediately after being caught. So you don't want to leave them in the simmering butter too long or else they’ll overcook, just a minute or so to let some flavours mingle:

IMG_E2278.JPG



Spoon the shrimps out into small pots, ramekins, kilner jars, or indeed coffee cups, and then cover with the rest of the spiced butter:




And put in the fridge to set, after which they'll look something like this:

IMG_2285.jpg



Potted shrimps can be eaten either at room temperature, or warmed up again so that the butter melts which is how I like them. Usually with toast, though I'm going to have mine with another British classic: The Crumpet.

A crumpet is a little difficult to describe to those who haven't come across them, though certainly worth looking out for if you can find one available to purchase in the colonies. It's kinda like an 'English Muffin', but it's not bready like a muffin, more chewy, and has a slightly savoury yeasty flavour. Like a muffin you toast them, but you don't need to cut them in half. And they have a distinct advantage over the muffin in that the bubbling of yeast (or sometimes bicarb) in the dough means they have an awful lot of holes in them, so the inside of a crumpet looks almost identical to a natural sponge. And it’s going to soak up all the delicious melted spiced butter from my Potted Shrimps.

Here is a crumpet:

IMG_2308.jpg



And served with a simple cucumber salad my grandmother used to make:

IMG_2292.jpg


IMG_2299.jpg



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Potted Shrimps (Serves one as a main course, or two as a starter)

100g peeled Brown Shrimp
100g salted butter
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of mace
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Chopped parsley and a slice of lemon to serve.


Cucumber Salad (per person)

1/4 of a cucumber very finely sliced
30ml brown malt vinegar
Ground black pepper

Mix and leave in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour before serving.
 
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My favourite way to serve potted shrimp is heating it up in a small skillet, then bringing it straight to the table whilst hot for everyone to get stuck in with some crusty bread.

I like the idea of the cucumber salad pairing as something fresh and acidic to cut through and would happily chuck a load of cornichons on the side as an alternative.
 
That crumpet would be a trypophobe’s nightmare 😅 looks like a cool recipe tho, thanks for the detailed write up, might try making this now!


Ha! I had to google that one, but - yes.

Thinking about it properly; this kind of potting actually gets done with all sorts of things, not just that particular type of shrimp. I've done it with smoked mackerel before, crab works very well too, and I've seen a recipe for potted lobster somewhere before I think.


My favourite way to serve potted shrimp is heating it up in a small skillet, then bringing it straight to the table whilst hot for everyone to get stuck in with some crusty bread.


Sounds excellent. Though it might test my politeness / table manners / willingness to share.
 
I’ve always heard about these little shrimp from my Belgian friends. We don’t get anything like that here. I was fascinated with them getting harvested in the local waters, shipped off to Morocco to get peeled by hand and then returned to Northern Europe for consumption. A trip I’d go for in a flash as long as I didn’t get potted at the end of it.
 
That looks great. In the past I viewed english muffins/crumpets as strictly breakfast food, but this is making me reevaluate. The crumpet seems ideal for absorbing the fatty goodness. w/ the black char that crumpet looks like it was toasted on a pan and not toaster. Did you also make it yourself or store bought? I am guessing they are sold everywhere in the UK, unlike in the states where they are a rarity.
 
Reading the recipe again and remembering the many services where we served potted shrimps or crab - not with muffins, but toasted granary or sour dough - I started to look for old references to it. It's ancient of course, more a way of preserving than preparing, a la confit mode. Mrs Beeton came up in Google and she has a fine recipe for it, nr. 312 as you scroll down

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10136/pg10136.html
Part of the original preface to the book reads:

"I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it. What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife's badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways. Men are now so well served out of doors,—at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses, that in order to compete with the attractions of these places, a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery, as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home."
:0
 
Bet you could do it with crawfish and Tony Chachere’s, kind of NOLA style.
Funny you should mention that Steve. I said the same thing about crawfish to Oli and sent him a Crawfish Etouffee recipe too.
 
Bet you could do it with crawfish and Tony Chachere’s, kind of NOLA style.
Funny you should mention that Steve. I said the same thing about crawfish to Oli and sent him a Crawfish Etouffee recipe too.


Yeah, definitely could be tweaked to make with Crayfish and some local seasonings/spices.

In fact (to let you in on a little secret) in the pics above I also actually used some of this highly unorthodox and non-traditional American spice mix. Because feck it; there's not much that Old Bay doesn't improve imo.

IMG_E2259.JPG



I'll keep an eye out for Tony Chachere's, though I fear it might not be available over here at all. Even Old Bay is quite difficult to find.
 
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Yeah, definitely could be tweaked to make with Crayfish and some local seasonings/spices.

In fact (to let you in on a little secret) in the pics above I also actually used some of this highly non-traditional American spice mix. Because feck it - there's not much that Old Bay doesn't improve imo.

View attachment 293635


I'll keep an eye out for Tony Chachere's, though I fear it might not be available over here at all. Even Old Bay is quite difficult to find.

Yup that is the state condiment from my childhood in Maryland.
 
I’ve always heard about these little shrimp from my Belgian friends. We don’t get anything like that here. I was fascinated with them getting harvested in the local waters, shipped off to Morocco to get peeled by hand and then returned to Northern Europe for consumption. A trip I’d go for in a flash as long as I didn’t get potted at the end of it.

Ah yes, I think I remember reading somewhere that this type of shrimp was also very popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. Exactly the same species as the UK ones I believe.

My sister works in the fishing industry and has some similarly barmy stories. For instance if I go to my local fishmonger to buy some British crab meat; it has apparently been caught here, cooked, frozen, flown to China, defrosted, picked, packaged, and then flown back to the UK for sale in a little plastic tub.

And we wonder why the world burns!


That looks great. In the past I viewed english muffins/crumpets as strictly breakfast food, but this is making me reevaluate. The crumpet seems ideal for absorbing the fatty goodness. w/ the black char that crumpet looks like it was toasted on a pan and not toaster. Did you also make it yourself or store bought? I am guessing they are sold everywhere in the UK, unlike in the states where they are a rarity.


I didn't make the crumpet myself I'm afraid, it came out of a packet from the shop.

But yep - they’re particularly good for savoury stuff too. In this instance I confess I may have nabbed the idea from a trendy Michelin starred London chef:

https://www.standard.co.uk/going-out/restaurants/tom-browns-cornerstone-crumpet-recipe-a4400071.html

Though I've been to his restaurant, and whilst the homemade crumpet might be a little better than my supermarket version, my potted shrimps are markedly better than his, which are under-seasoned. Probably I imagine because in the recipe there he's not got enough cayenne, and appears to be using unsalted butter but not adding any more salt. Fool.
 
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Reading the recipe again and remembering the many services where we served potted shrimps or crab - not with muffins, but toasted granary or sour dough - I started to look for old references to it. It's ancient of course, more a way of preserving than preparing, a la confit mode. Mrs Beeton came up in Google and she has a fine recipe for it, nr. 312 as you scroll down

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10136/pg10136.html
Part of the original preface to the book reads:

"I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it. What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife's badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways. Men are now so well served out of doors,—at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses, that in order to compete with the attractions of these places, a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery, as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home."
:0


Excellent!

I’ve got an old copy of Mrs B’s HM somewhere, though I hadn’t spotted the potted shrimp recipe before. Glad to see the recipe hasn’t changed since then.

And it’s certainly stood the test of time better than c.19th ideas about gender equality have. 😬
 
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Ah yes, I think I remember reading somewhere that this type of shrimp was also very popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. Exactly the same species as the UK ones I believe.

They are popular in Germany as well, known as "Nordseekrabben" there.

They are available fresh, frozen, tinned, and freeze dried. Unfortunately, no-one seems to be importing them Down Under, so I will have to continue to live without them. Importing tinned ones is prohibitively expensive, and freeze dried ones would likely not make it past quarantine :(

If you live somewhere where you can get your hands on them, give it a try. They taste different from normal large shrimp/prawns. Less sweet, with somewhat woody notes.
 
They are popular in Germany as well, known as "Nordseekrabben" there.

They are available fresh, frozen, tinned, and freeze dried. Unfortunately, no-one seems to be importing them Down Under, so I will have to continue to live without them. Importing tinned ones is prohibitively expensive, and freeze dried ones would likely not make it past quarantine :(

If you live somewhere where you can get your hands on them, give it a try. They taste different from normal large shrimp/prawns. Less sweet, with somewhat woody notes.
Totally different - my wife and I fished them here on the Swedish coast and cooked them in sea water - very small, extremely intense flavour.



gone-fishing.jpg
 
Here’s Tony ….. Kind of like Old Bay for Cajun country.

The regular version is quite salty, so you will want to check the saltiness of your food before you add any more salt. They also make a lower salt version.

IMG_0272.jpeg
 

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