Potted Shrimp

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.

Right.

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.

Strain it through some muslin or a couple of pieces of kitchen towel.
Isn’t it pretty? Congratulations – you just clarified butter!

Pour about two-thirds back into the saucepan (which you’ve carefully wiped out), reserving the rest. Add the lemon juice, grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt and simmer VERY GENTLY for 5 minutes or so.

Let it cool a bit.

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.

Anyway, the boys walked to Hanging Rock and they even made it back alive which is something I believe isn’t guaranteed so hey ho and woohoo and all that.
Oh, beloved Coolum…..*dies of longing*

Ok – below is the done deal, halfway through being consumed. Bloody delicious. Perfect for English spring weather. Get potting.

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5 thoughts on “Potted Shrimp

  1. narf7 says:

    “G’Day” Good to see you are affecting the ways of the Auld Country. We used to catch shrimp like that in a little channel just off from the ocean in Denmark W.A. The channel is still there. Not sure if the shrimp are.

    • b-kom says:

      My great-grandparents used to live in Denmark! Great bakery, beautiful trees.

      • narf7 says:

        Most probably “hung” with my rellies as they are old Denmarkian stock as well. Most probably they went prawning in the channel as well as its a great thing to do on a warm summer night with the rest of Denmark represented by bright little spots of lantern light and the resounding “THWACK!” of prawing nets being weilded by kids and the overloud (prawn terrifying) “SHHHHHH!” of their long suffering parents.

      • b-kom says:

        Oh, prawning! None of that to be had over here. Boo.

      • narf7 says:

        You can think of your ancestors wading with their pants rolled up and their little lanterns waving to attract those beady little eyes. Most of the time you might catch enough to make half a sandwich but it was more the fun of being out there with the rest of the town in sync for once with a single purpose attached to every face and lantern. I hear people used to go floundering as well but that was a whole different season/story. I hear they go prawning over the other side of the river from us. I say “good luck guys”. The river here is like rivers over there with smooth stones and chunks of volcanic rock covered in Pacific oysters that eat shoes for breakfast. Prawns simply aren’t that high up on our “must have” scale for that kind of effort 😉

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