Morecambe Bay and Potted Shrimp

Potted Shrimp (1) This is “Lancaster Sands” painted by JMW Turner in circa 1826. This place can be found in the Northwest of England. Prior to the extension of the railway to Windermere in the 1840’s if you wanted to take three days off the long, painful and expensive coach journey to and from Westmoreland then taking this hazardous crossing of the sands was what you did. For a price, skilled guides would navigate travellers through the various hazards and quick sands of the bay. Not least, timing the short interval of low tide was everything. No Doubt the hotels and guesthouses either side of the crossing would be full of ever exaggerating tales of “there I was, I thought I was going to die!”. Here is the bay imaged from Morecambe as it is today. If you look closely you can just about make out the fells of the English Lake District through the mixture of haze and rain. Potted Shrimp (2) However, this is food blog not a history blog and I’m in Morecambe for a reason. The reason started when I came across a wonderful book in my shelves. The Seafood Lovers Guide by Rick Stein. For me if you want to understand the seafood around the British coastline then this has to be the go-to book along with the go-to tv series. In my mind this is probably the best tv series and the best book of seafood ever written. Whilst flicking through the pages I came across this. Potted Shrimp (3) This was one of those “I had forgotten all about that” moments. A moment when distant memories of a forgotten part of child hood are sharply brought back in to focus. Morecambe bay is rightly famous, amongst other things, for its seafood. Amongst which are flooks and Cockles. But the star, rightly or wrongly, are brown shrimp. In the above passage Stein gives a nice little insight into Morecambe, the bay and a local shrimp fisherman Raymond Edmondson. This is his shop. Potted Shrimp (4) Inside I found that childhood favourite that I had almost forgotten about. Potted Shrimps. Potted Shrimp (5) As a snack with a large, steaming mug of tea or with a small glass of cider this is nothing other than complete joy. There are some things in my food life that I struggle to understand. Why are there people who will go out of their way to spend hundreds of pounds on a miserably small jar of mediocre caviar and ignore something as fantastic and as brilliant as this which costs, I don’t know (I don’t care) something like £2/3? I don’t get it. The best part though it that it is so simple too make. This is all you need: Potted Shrimp (6) Brown shrimp (preferably from Morecambe Bay), unsalted butter, cayenne pepper and nutmeg (the image has paprika, I grabbed the wrong jar). That’s it. Nothing else. Most recipes will tell you that the nutmeg is essential and the cayenne is optional. To my mind it is the other way around. The bite from the cayenne really lifts this. The quality of the shrimp is everything with this so it is worth going out of your way to find good ones. Potted Shrimp (8) Wash and dry the shrimp. Take time to get the shrimp properly dried off. Then get them properly covered in the nutmeg and the cayenne. In the mean time, make up some clarified butter in the usual way. That is slowly melted down in a pan on very low heat so that the yukky, fatty stuff ends up at the bottom and the clear stuff ends up at the top (take your time and be patient). Potted Shrimp (9) Fill up a small, sterilised, jar with the shrimp and pour in the clarified butter and leave to set. First on the counter to loose most of the heat and then to the fridge. It’s a good idea to pour on a little more of the butter as it sets to make sure the shrimp is properly covered. That is all there is to it. Easy, simple, cheap and wonderful. The end result should look something like this. Potted Shrimp Imagine what a great starter something like this could be or an original finger food or tapas of some kind. Personally, I love it spread on a nice piece of toast. Or how about this, melted over a nice piece of fish simply served with potatoes and green beans. Enjoy. Potted Shrimp (10)

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