In Search Of… the recipe for Marina Del Rey’s “Killer Shrimp”

image A friend of mine from work, Stephanie Lemus, (who incidentally was one of the 100 people selected to compete in this year’s $1,000,000 Pillsbury Bake Off for her original recipe for Candied Bacon & Apple Canapes) forwarded me the recipe for what was supposed to be the broth from “Killer Shrimp”, a rather famous place to eat in Marina Del Rey that closed down a few years ago. 

Many folks – particularly single folk – would go there and eat the one thing they sold:  Shrimp in a spicy cajun style broth.  They served it with your choice of french bread, rice, or noodles but that was all they served.  One dish, 3 ways.  And it was good enough to run a business on for at least a decade or so.

Sadly, Killer Shrimp is no more.  Reportedly there’s a place called Jack Shrimp in Newport Beach that has an identical recipe (supposedly a brother of the Killer Shrimp owner) but beyond that, there’s no where in LA to get this stuff… unless you make it yourself. 

I’ve looked at the recipe Steph gave me and compared it to the comments & advice about similar recipes from several locations (references below) and came up with the aggregate you see below.  Basically, I used the ‘wisdom of crowds’ to come up with what I think is the closest thing to the original Killer Shrimp recipe.  For instance, it seems universally recognized by those that have tried this recipe that the chicken broth should be ‘low sodium’… that ‘thyme’ needs to be added… that red pepper flakes need to be added… that beer gets used instead of white wine (although I disagree on this point – being that the origination of this substitution seems to be a single comment made on one web site without any sort of corroboration)… that the amount of tomato paste should be reduced to 3 oz… etc. etc.

One very important thing we’ve learned is that there is no getting around the cooking time.  You absolutely must cook this for 3 hours or more even if you cut the spices.

Anyway – here it is so far.  Consider this a beta.  It’s not perfect yet.  My wife and I are still testing some things, specifically the usage of lemon, the trade off between using white wine or beer, adding sea salt, etc.:

KillerShrimp2 Killer Shrimp
(version .01b)


      • ½ small onion, diced
      • 1 celery rib, diced
      • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
      • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (was 1 cup butter)
      • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (can be overly salty if not low-sodium)
      • 1 ½ tablespoon rosemary (was 2 tablespoons rosemary)
      • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
      • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
      • 1 teaspoon celery seed
      • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
      • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
      • 8oz clam juice (was 1 cup clam juice supposed to change to 2 cups but switched back to 8 oz)
      • 3 tablespoons (3 oz) of tomato paste (was 1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste)
      • 1 cup white wine (or beer)
      • 1 ½ pounds shrimp, with tails
      • Optional: Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
      • 1 (1 pound) loaf French bread


  1. Fry onion, celery, garlic in the butter until fragrant and soft in a large pot.
  2. Take all the spices (rosemary, thyme, pepper, celery seed, fennel seed, pepper flakes) and cut/crush them enough that they remain whole but are broken to more easily release flavor.
  3. Pour in broth, and mix in rosemary, thyme, pepper, celery seed, fennel seed, clam juice, pepper flakes, & tomato paste. Place cover on pot to maintain consistency.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir beer into the broth mixture and continue to simmer and occasionally stir 2 hours.
  6. Just before serving, stir in shrimp. Continue cooking 3 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque.
  7. Serve with bread.



  6. Comments from one posting:
    1. Too much butter. It should be 1 stick (1/2 cup) at the most and some people may find they would rather use less.
    2. The shrimp MUST have the whole skin on. The flavor that the shrimp peels adds to the mix is essential, yet indefinable.
    3. Double the amount of clam juice to 16 oz
    4. Reduce the Rosemary by 1/3 and double the amount of fennel, add 1 tsp dried thyme
    5. Reduce the tomato paste to 3 TBSP
    6. Add salt, preferably sea salt
    7. Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
    8. Add hot sauce to taste. Finally, there is a secret ingredient involved, which I am not prepared to divulge. But the above will get you close.

11 Responses to In Search Of… the recipe for Marina Del Rey’s “Killer Shrimp”

  1. Brandy says:

    So does it work better with beer or wine?

    • kurtsh says:

      Beer. It’s definitely beer. I think I clarified that in a following post, if you read through the 6 or so posts that I made later during my quest for an accurate recipe.

  2. Porsha says:

    Does it matter what kind of beer? Coors light vs sierra nevada lets say???

    • kurtsh says:

      Honestly, I just grabbed what was in the refrigerator which was Stella Artois. It came out okay (see my subsequent SIX OTHER POSTS on this topic) but I might want to try something more earthy like Guinness. Others I’ve talked to said they just used cheap beer like Bud but something about that sounded wrong.

  3. […] out of 10 we grab the pot with leftover broth and dig in with the second loaf Kurt’s Recipe… Killer Shrimp (version .01b) […]

  4. Romney says:

    I followed your recipe except for the celery seed and it came out really good! You really pulled together the recipes that are floating around and came up with a pretty good copy of the original. This is not my first attempt at trying to recreate this recipe, but it is the best one so far.


  5. susie r says:

    hi kurt-
    we’re going to try this recipe this weekend for a bbq we’re having. the part 5 recipe calls for a previous batch. what is the recipe for the previous batch? did you ever complete the recipe in its entirety?

    • kurtsh says:

      Hi Susie. So all the previous posts that I’ve made on this pursuit of the perfect Killer Shrimp broth are available here:

      I essentially stopped fiddling with the recipe once I’d gotten close so something satisfactory. I kinda got tired due to having a newborn in the house keeping my and the missus occupied and more to the point, there was less of a need being that the new Killer Shrimp opened up in Marina Del Rey off of Admiralty Way. Ironically, now that that’s open, it should make it easier to figure out the real recipe… but now there’s not really any need for me to do so seeing that I can pick up a bowl (or take some to go) for ~$10 now.

      Good luck!

  6. susie r says:

    hi kurt-
    thanks very much! so i made it on sunday and it came out great. a few thoughts though: I think what’s missing is the shrimp shells. normally, when you make a seafood stew, sauce, etc. you saute the shells with the mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) and then strain it out. i think if i did this, it would add more body to the flavor of the sauce. i bought the shrimp at costco (not far from KS in MDR!) and they came tail on, shell off – so next time i’ll have to find some shells. also, i used an immersion blender to blend the sauce (so you don’t see the veggies) and it gives the sauce some thickness, before adding the shrimp. i tripled the recipe and put 6# of shrimp in (it produced a ridiculous amount of broth). when they ate all of the shrimp, i adjusted the sauce again before adding the last 2# of shrimp i had in the freezer. I doubled the garlic, added a fair amount of salt and another tablespoon of rosemary. It came out great!

  7. Denise says:

    Try adding Vermouth.

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