Potted shrimps is a dish from the North-West Lancashire region of Britain, Morecambe Bay. These shrimps are of the brown variety and are smaller than regular shrimp, but since these are hard to come by, other varieties of shrimp are also used.
No, it’s not a typo, the name is shrimps and you’re probably wondering what “potted” means? Potted is a term simply used when something is served, cooked and preserved in a pot, which are more like small bowls. Just like plants, it also applies to food.
Unfortunately, here in America we don’t have access to these small, sweet shrimps so I improvised with the recipe and cut regular shrimp into bite-size pieces.
The “shrimps” are boiled in their shells (traditionally in sea water) then peeled and mixed with the unusual flavor of nutmeg, a pinch of pepper and sometimes a hint of cloves. Clarified butter is used as this serves as a more acceptable preserving method that was invented years ago. To clarify butter, butter is heated in a pan. As the butter cools, the milk solids sink to the bottom and what you are left with is a wonderful yellow liquefied butter. You may have had it for dipping succulent lobster in restaurants.
For today’s recipe, I did not cook the shrimp in sea water. I went with the easier and more practical way of cooking them in the clarified butter. Let me tell you, it was all I could do to stop myself from eating the warm, butter-bathed shrimp.
The butter and shrimp are added to ramekins, this recipe yields 2 8-ounce ramekins and they are covered and refrigerated until the butter is set. To serve, you spread the buttered shrimp onto toasted bread for a lovely seafood appetizer.
Fun fact: This dish was a favorite of the James Bond creator Ian Fleming that he ate frequently at Scott’s restaurant in London in the 50’s and 60’s. The dish was also a favorite of James Bond himself, per Fleming’s novels.
Potted Shrimps Recipe
- 16 Unsalted Butter
- Grated Nutmeg
- 0.25 Salt
- White Pepper
- 1 Peeled and Deveined Shrimp cut into bite-size pieces
- Add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Turn off the heat when you see foam form on the top and the butter is melted. Strain the butter through cheesecloth or a very fine mesh strainer into a glass measuring jug.
- You will see some of the solids sink to the bottom and the yellow liquid is the clarified butter.
- Carefully pour the clarified butter back into the pan keeping the solids in the jug. You can refrigerate the solids and save for future cooking.
- Heat the clarified butter over medium heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked.
- Spoon the shrimp into 2 8-ounce ramekins in an even layer and pour the butter over so it covers the shrimp. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the butter is set, about 1 hour
- Serve with toasted bread slices.