Potted Prawns 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Mar 12, 2014

The key flavoring in this traditional recipe is the tiny amount of mace.

You'll need 4 small ramekins. The smaller the shrimp, the more they will be covered when you add the sauce to each ramekin.

See VARIATIONS, below.

Serve with toast points.

Make Ahead: MAKE AHEAD: The cooked prawns need to cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour. The potted prawns need to be refrigerated for at least 2 days (to blend the flavors) before serving.

Storage Notes: The potted prawns can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings; makes 1 2/3 cups

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt, for the cooking water
  • 1 pound small Atlantic prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined (40- or 60-count)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated mace
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Combine 4 cups of water and the salt in a pot over high heat. Fill a bowl with water and ice cubes.

Once the salted water comes to a rolling boil, add the shrimp. Cook for no more than 3 minutes; the shrimp will be barely opaque. Use a Chinese skimmer or wide slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Cool and drain.

Combine the butter, anchovy paste, mace, nutmeg, lemon zest and cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Add the cooked prawns and stir to coat; cook for no more than 3 minutes, then divide the coated prawns (but not the sauce; leave it in the pan) evenly among the ramekins. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Once the prawns have chilled, reheat the sauce over medium-low heat (so it’s pourable). Divide among the ramekins; you should be able to completely cover the prawns in each one. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving.

VARIATIONS: In testing, we found that a step can be saved if you saute the shrimp in the sauce rather than boil them first. American palates not used to the charms of potted prawns might like this dish served warm rather than chilled.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Irish Pantry: Traditional Breads, Preserves, and Goodies to Feed the Ones You Love," by Noel McMeel with Lunn Marie Hulsman (Running Press, 2014).

Tested by Helen Horton.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.