In bygone days, when one went to the seaside on holiday, one almost always tried to find someplace to have a shrimp tea. Since this was before the advent of modern health department regulations, these lovely teas were often offered by some widow or housewife living in a cottage near the beach. A shrimp tea usually consisted of a plate of freshly boiled shrimp, still in their shells, brown bread and butter, potted shrimp and of course a pot of fragrant tea. There was a time when potted shrimp was a standard item at a proper high tea. It is a bit of a futz to make and is now seldom seen.
. I collected this recipe from a charming Cornish fishing village with the unlikely name of Mousehole, pronounced “muzzel.”
1 pound cooked baby shrimp
¼ cup butter
1 shallot, very finely minced
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon finely minced dill weed or ¼ teaspoon dried
A wee pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup fish or chicken stock or broth
1 small fillet of sole or other mile-flavored white fish – (about ¼-pound)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Mince half of the shrimp very finely and leave the remaining whole. Melt the quarter cup of butter in a heavy skillet and add the minced shallot, mace, nutmeg, dill, lemon juice and zest, cayenne and broth. Mix together well. Add the fish fillet and cook gently over medium heat. Do not allow the fish to brown. the fish is done when the flesh is opaque and no longer translucent. This requires a few minutes only. Remove from the heat.
flake the fish into small pieces and put into a blender or food processor along with any liquid remaining in the pan and the minced shrimp. Process into a paste. Put this paste into a bowl and add the whole shrimp and parsley. Mix well and season to taste with pepper. You may wish to add a bit more lemon juice and fresh minced dill weed.
Pack the mixture into a small crock or other straight-sided clay or pottery dish. Pour enough clarified butter over it to cover completely. Refrigerated until well chilled, at least two hours, or over night.
This was traditionally served at teatime with lemon wedges, thin slices of cucumber and very thin toast or brown bread.