Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shrimp Butter

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A specialty of Charleston and the Carolina Low Country, this is a rich puree of sautee shrimp, lots of sweet butter, sherry and spices.  Ideal spread on toast points for cocktails or on white bread for tea sandwiches.  A truly southern way to enjoy shrimp paste is stirred into hot grits and served with toast as a breakfast or supper dish.

When I serve shrimp butter on toast for cocktails, I use Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread toasted at 200 degrees in the oven for about 1 hour.  You can make these early in the day and store in a tin until ready to serve.

Yield:  2 1/2 cups


2 sticks ( 1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


 1.In a large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter until it foams. Add the shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a food processor.

2.Return the skillet to high heat. Add the sherry, lemon juice and cayenne and cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the liquid over the shrimp and process until very smooth.

3.With the machine on, add the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until smooth and silky. Transfer the shrimp paste to a serving bowl and let cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerated for at least 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

The shrimp paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Adapted from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
Photo Food And Wine


  1. It sounds truly wonderful! I would like it as a brunch appetizer on cornbread with Bloody Marys.

  2. Can you still buy Pepperidge Farms thin sliced bread.....I have not seen it for ages.

  3. Anonymous,

    Absolutely, white and whole wheat. I have a loaf in the freezer right now!

    Classicist, the possibilities are endless!

  4. Julieta, I gain weight just reading your blog!! This sounds delicious. I have had shrimp & grits in Charleston and loved them!! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Sandra, that's not bad, I gain weight writing this blog! there's a good recipe for shrimp and grits in the lake blog.

  6. Yummie....
    This is delicious.
    Thanks for the recepie
    Greetings from the Netherlands.

  7. I remember eating something like this, but it wasn't in the South. Is it a bit like the English dish "potted shrimp"? I love potted shrimp and I'm sure I'd love this—it's hard coming up with good ideas for cocktail hour. Thanks, I'll try it!

  8. Paul,

    I have not had potted shrimp but after reading a recipe in the NYT it seems to me there the shrimp are left whole. This is more of a paste, but same general idea. Also ps has more spices. The recipe was probably brought down by the English to Charleston and adapted

  9. You know what tastes really good. Shrimp with coconut oil.


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