Monday, April 30, 2007

How to pot a shrimp

The North Atlantic brown shrimps (Crangon crangon) are in season now. They are not overfished, stocks are at safe levels, and they are absolutely delicious - tiny pinky brown morsels that are an expensive delicacy when you can find them. (In America they are represented by C. franciscorum, the California, grey or bay shrimp.) They are estuarine creatures, coming from Morecambe Bay in the North of England, and from the mudflats of the Bristol Channel, and also from the flat coastal regions of Holland, Belgium and Denmark. Potted shrimps, wedged into a lightly spiced butter, are a traditional English luxury. You can get them already packed into little plastic pots in Fortnum & Mason, Waitrose and the like. Or you can make your own. Like this:

Drain the shrimps in a sieve

Clarify about 4ozs butter and return clarified butter to pan.

Add a large pinch of mace, a large pinch of cayenne and a pinch of nutmeg

Swirl spices in butter and add shrimps

Warm gently through but do not allow to boil

Pour into clean dry jar/pot/ramekin and allow to cool.

Chill in fridge.

Remove from fridge long enough before needed for the butter to soften and serve with toast.

In the middle of writing this I remembered that I had seen a big patch of watercress growing in a stream nearby, and I thought it would go nicely with the potted shrimps, so I rushed off to see if I could get some. Sadly the flow of the stream makes it just out of reach without waders so the watercress will have to wait for another day and more equipment!


Jeanne said...

Mmmm, potted shrimp: another reason to love English food! I had this for the first time earlier this year on a visit to Norfolk - somehow I hadn't realised that there really is nothing more to this than butter and shrimps. None of this namby pamby health food stuff ;-) Utterly, sinfully delicious!

lindy said...

How long do these last in the fridge?

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

What heavenly food to lay out for guests or nibble myself for an indulgent lunch!I had no idea potted shrimp was so simple either. I can't wait to try it!

June said...

Hi Lindy
My pot was in the fridge for a couple of days before I dug into it. Then it stayed in the fridge for the best part of a week while I picked at it. And I'm still here!

Ulrike said...

These kind of shrimps (crangon crangon) are special! I live in Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany) and I like this dish. It's great to peel them and put directly to your mouth ;-)

June said...

Hi Ulrike

We don't see them unpeeled very often - and let's face it they are a bit fiddly - but your Fischerman's Lunch looks delicious!

Liz said...

Wonderful! I wish that we had access to a fishmonger round here - unfortunately, in Cambridge we're stuck with a fish van on the market and a smaller (very nice, but short on interesting things like brown shrimp) van which drives around the city. It doesn't make it out here to the villages, though, so I am stuck with pre-potted shrimp from Waitrose. A shame, because they're one of my very favourite things in the world.

June said...

Hi Liz
It's a shame isn't it? Tesco's sells such an ordinary rather flabby selection, and it isn't cheap. We are lucky enough to have two good market stalls, one on Wed and one on Sat, and a little chap who turns up on Weds and Fridays at the local farm shop. But wouldn't it be wonderful to have one of those french market stalls where you don't know what half of it is!

Mark said...

June, do you heat the shrimp at all? We are trying to recreate this recipe based upon a quote by the Duchess of Windsor. She does not mention that they are heated. But in looking at various recipes on line some call to heat the shrimp until pink, some do not specify. Thank you for your assistance. From another June

June said...


When we buy these little shrimps they have already been boiled and peeled and should not be boiled again or they will get very tough. I just warm them through in the melted butter before potting. Any recipe calling for them to be cooked until pink is starting off with raw shrimps. I'm not sure where you are, but in the UK shrimps are little things, as opposed to prawns which are the bigger version.

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