Hullo there. I’ve been your absent friend. Or maybe just your absent. Who knows. Anyway, excuses are as follows:
(i) Laziness – two categories: In General and In Respect of the Blog
(ii) Lack of Things to Blog – I had a load of pics ready to blog cauliflower cheese but then I changed my mind on blogging that and didn’t cook anything blog-worthy for ages
(iii) Australia. Spent most of March and a little bit of April back home, traipsing from West to East and ending with some delicious time in Coolum after an unusual (in Aussie terms at least) inland trip driving from Sydney through the middle of NSW, the Narrabri plains and the Darling Downs of Queensland before ending up on the Sunshine Coast.
(iv) Laziness. Again. Post-return.
(v) Australia, MK II. I had to head home rather fast for a short trip about two weeks after getting back.
(vi) Lovely weather in England. OMG CAN YOU BLOODY BELIEVE IT.
Anyway here I am and here is a recipe for potted shrimp. Potted shrimp is something I spent my first ten years in London avoiding (yesterday having been my FIFTEEN YEAR anniversary of moving here, Jesus Christ), the congealed clarified butter on the top somehow offputting in perceived mouth-feel in the same way peanut butter can hijack your palate by superglue-ing your tongue to the top of your mouth.
Clearly I eventually got over my stupid self and tried some potted shrimp and they are a thing of simple beauty. I don’t know what baby brown prawns you’d use in Australia – do we even bother with prawns that small? No idea. Maybe a nicely chopped normal prawn treated the same way might do? If you try, let me know.
Regardless, this is a really really easy and really really nice thing to do if you’re having people over. As it can all be done the day before you just whip the shrimp out on the day, with some fancy toasted brown sourdough on the side, and absorb the compliments faster than the UK Tory government does tax evading business partners.
I looked at a few recipes online and kind of made this one up as an amalgam of them all, using Felicity Cloake’s always-amazing Guardian column as the main resource.
To serve 4 generously, gather:
200g unsalted butter
Juice of around 1/4-1/2 lemon, to taste
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
¼ teaspoon white pepper (I didn’t have so used finely ground black)
Around 200g cooked and peeled brown shrimps
Cayenne pepper, to serve (I didn’t have, so didn’t use, I sprinkled a tiny amount of sweet smoked paprika on instead. Was nice).
In a saucepan melt the butter over a gentle heat till it comes to a simmer.
As you can see above, it starts kind of golden and opaque, creamy even. Keep going. Keep an eye on this as if you let it burn you’ve ruined it.
Don’t let it burn, yo. Above is how it looks when done – less golden yellow, slightly darker and the vaguest hint of dark flecks in the liquid. It took mine about ten minutes to get to this stage. Ten minutes of watching more carefully than I do NewHuman when he scales some local feature of great height.
Put your shrimp into your pots/ramekins. Pat them down quite firmly, possibly more firmly than they might like. When the butter is still just warm but not set, spoon it over the shrimp and press down again. You really need to press them down with a spoon quite nicely as otherwise you leave too many gaps and tunnels for the clarified butter topping to escape down.
Stick ’em in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Then add the reserved butter on top, equally divided between pots. Back into the fridge till set! This was literally the road to Hanging Rock, near Nundle, NSW. I love Nundle. I loved it the moment I met it. If you ever go that way, drop in.
Ok – below is the done deal, halfway through being consumed. Bloody delicious. Perfect for English spring weather. Get potting.