What’s the Best Way to Cook a Traditional British Potted Shrimp?

As a group of food lovers, home cooks, and food enthusiasts, we always keep an eye out for mouthwatering, delicious recipes. Today, we’re going to delve into a classic recipe that hails from the British Isles, a little gem known as potted shrimps.

Laden with flavors of butter, pepper, and bay, this traditional dish is a showcase of the British love for seafood, particularly shrimp. This recipe not only pampers your tastebuds but also allows you to craft a culinary delight in a quick and easy manner.

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History and Popularity of Potted Shrimps

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to understand why potted shrimps hold a special place in British food history. Potted shrimps were originally popular in the coastal towns of Lancashire, where the brown shrimp was abundant. The dish was traditionally served as an appetiser, often accompanied by toast or fresh bread.

This unique dish gained fame due to its simplicity and the rich, spicy flavor achieved through the clever use of butter, pepper, and bay leaves. Over time, it has gained a reputation among food aficionados and has garnered rave ratings from food critics and home cooks alike.

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Key Ingredients for a Traditional British Potted Shrimp

What makes the potted shrimp dish so sumptuous and sought-after? The answer is simple – its ingredients. The star ingredient is, of course, the shrimp. The brown shrimps, small and sweet in nature, are typically used for this classic British dish.

The next significant ingredient is clarified butter. The use of clarified butter helps give the dish its distinctive flavour, while also preserving the shrimp for a longer period. Other ingredients include the quintessential duo of pepper and bay leaves, providing the dish with a spicy and aromatic depth.

Cooking the Perfect Traditional British Potted Shrimp

The magic of potted shrimps lies in its simplicity. It takes only a few minutes to prepare this dish, making it an ideal option for a quick appetizer or even an indulgent snack.

To start off, you need to melt the clarified butter in a pan until it becomes hot. Next, add the shrimps and cook them for a few mins until they become pink. Season the shrimps with salt, pepper, and bay leaves, and let them simmer in the butter for some more time.

Note: The quantity of butter should be enough to cover the shrimps completely, as the aim is to preserve the shrimps in the butter.

Presentation and Serving Suggestions

Presentation is a crucial aspect of food that often goes unnoticed. The way you serve your dish can enhance the eating experience and make the food more appealing. Potted shrimps are traditionally served in small, ceramic pots, which give the dish its name.

These pots are filled with shrimps and then topped with more clarified butter. Once the shrimps are covered with the butter, the pots are refrigerated until the butter sets. The shrimps are then served directly from the pot, and the butter is used as a spread for accompanying toast or bread.

The beauty of this dish is its versatility. It can be served as an appetizer, a snack with your evening tea, or even a light dinner. The key is to serve it according to your mood and preferences.

Some Additional Tips

While this recipe is fairly straightforward, a few tips can help you master the art of cooking a traditional British potted shrimp:

  1. Always use fresh shrimps for this recipe. Frozen shrimps often lose their flavor and texture.

  2. Do not overcook the shrimps. They are best when just cooked and still tender.

  3. The butter used in the recipe should be unsalted. This allows you to control the seasoning as per your taste.

  4. Always refrigerate the potted shrimps for at least a few hours before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the butter to set, providing a richer and deeper taste.

So, there you have it. The secret to cooking a traditional British potted shrimp is not a secret anymore. It’s all about the right ingredients, the right cooking techniques, and the passion for good food. Happy cooking!

The Morecambe Bay’s Contribution and Notable British Chefs’ Take on Potted Shrimps

One cannot talk about potted shrimps without mentioning Morecambe Bay. This expansive body of water in Northwest England is renowned for its bountiful yield of brown shrimp. The shrimp from Morecambe Bay are often considered the best for this dish due to their sweet, delicate flavour that perfectly balances the rich, aromatic butter.

Not only do they contribute to the popularity of the dish, but they also contribute significantly to the local economy. Morecambe Bay’s brown shrimps are cherished by locals and food enthusiasts alike, contributing to the dish’s widespread popularity.

Over the years, many renowned British chefs have included potted shrimps in their repertoire. Josh Eggleton, a Michelin-starred chef, offers his modern twist on this classic dish by adding cayenne pepper and mace for an extra kick. Meanwhile, other chefs prefer to stick with the traditional recipe, underscoring the versatility and enduring appeal of this beloved British dish.

Potted Shrimps – An Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques

While traditionally the shrimps are cooked in a pan, the potted shrimp recipe also lends itself to various cooking techniques. Sous vide, a process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag and cooking it in water at a precise temperature, is one such method. Cooking the shrimp sous vide can ensure they are cooked to perfection, maintaining their tenderness and flavour.

Another technique involves cooking the dish at a low heat for a longer duration, allowing the flavours to meld together more thoroughly. This can also enhance the shrimps’ texture, making them exceptionally tender and juicy.

It’s always fun and interesting to experiment with different cooking techniques. But remember, the key to a great dish lies in the quality of the ingredients and the love you put into preparing it.


In conclusion, the traditional British potted shrimp is not just a dish, but a love letter to the culinary heritage of the British Isles. It’s a testament to the simplicity and genius of British cuisine, turning ordinary ingredients into a gastronomic delight.

Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef, this recipe is sure to impress. From the freshness of the brown shrimps to the richness of the clarified butter, every element in this dish speaks of comfort and sophistication. And with a bit of creativity, you can add your own unique touch to this classic dish.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to roll up your sleeves, pull out your pots, and treat yourself to a taste of tradition. Save this recipe and enjoy the experience of cooking and devouring a delicious serving of British potted shrimps.

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