In Search Of… the recipe for Marina Del Rey’s “Killer Shrimp” (Part 2)

April 26, 2010

Like I said before, my wife and I have been modifying the ‘Internet classic Killer Shrimp’ recipe in an effort to get a taste that is closer to the real thing.  One of the variations we attempted while narrowing down the correct formula involved extending & reengineering the cooking process.

When cooking for a long period of time (6 hours), we noticed that the red pepper oils seems to completely get absorbed into the soup.  This does a couple things:  One, it makes the soup hotter than we’re used to, and two, the soups “upper layer” is in particular distinctively hotter relative to the rest of the soup.  This of course is what you generally end up eating more of initially.

And interesting thing happens however:  Once you’ve eaten off that higher layer of ‘spicier’ soup, the remaining soup is delicious.  It’s loaded with umami and has a savory, scrumptious flavor to it.   It’s a little thicker than I’m used to – almost like a gumbo or maybe a jambalaya sauce – but our next step is to use it as the base stock for the next batch of “Killer Shrimp”.

At the heart of all of this is something that I’m not sure has been taken into consideration by most “Killer Shrimp” cooks in pursuit of perfection and that is the process by which the people at Killer Shrimp used to make their broth.  This is what I think may be the missing ingredient that provides a savor that the basic ingredients don’t provide.

Remember that when Killer Shrimp’s employees would cook up a batch, it was highly unlikely they would ever “start a new pot”.  Instead, we believe they would:

  1. Create & simmer down one pot for 4-6 hours.
  2. Throw in a single serving of shrimp and cook it for a few minutes.
  3. Gather all the shrimp and some of the broth, and serve it.
  4. Continue this process to serve the majority of the pot.
  5. Start another pot separately on another burner, possibly cooking & serving shrimp from it too.
  6. Pour the second pot into the first pot to preserve the ‘shrimp stock’ and ‘residual ingredients’ from the original pot.
  7. Continue to serve shrimp from pot.
  8. Repeat cycle.

What I think this does is provide a richer, more sumptuous, “OMG-I-must-have-more” taste to the broth that would probably be difficult to produce through initial ingredients alone.

More on this later…

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

April 24, 2010


UPDATE (5/13/17):
Apparently, there’s a ton of people still hitting this post, despite it being written in 2010.

Folks, I am very aware that Killer Shrimp has reopened in the Marina.   Thank you but there’s no need to let me know…  I LIVE HERE.  🙂

For those not aware, Killer Shrimp closed back in the late 2000’s at it’s original location on Washington Blvd, was going to move to Chicago in the early 2010s, then opened a new location on the Marina several years later after what I was told was a change in the owner’s personal situation.

Y’all are reading the very first post of a very old set of seven posts about our quest to recreate the recipe.  Here’s the seventh & final post that was written back in June 2012: 

ORIGINAL POST (4/24/10):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.

“All creatures, great & small.”

April 17, 2010

clip_image001I’m not a terribly religious man, but I believe that people get a better, more accurate perspective of creation & grace when they observe the basics from animals, their innocence, and all their intentions or lack thereof.

What Pets Write in their Diaries

April 8, 2010

HappyDog.jpg image by LimaFoxtrot

Excerpts from a Dog’s Diary

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am – A walk in the park!  My favorite thing!

10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted!  My favorite thing!

12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!

  1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

  3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

  5:00 pm – Milk Bones! My favorite thing!

  7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

  8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people!  My favorite thing!

11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


Excerpts from a Cat’s Daily Diary

Day 983 of my captivity…

My captors  continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling  objects.  They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while  the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the  rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat  something in order to keep up my strength.

The  only thing that keeps me going is my dream of  escape.  In an attempt to disgust them, I once  again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a  mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet.   I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable  of.  However, they merely made condescending  comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am.   Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of  their accomplices tonight.  I was placed in solitary  confinement for the duration of the event.  However, I could hear the noises and smell the  food.  I overheard that my confinement was due to  the power of ‘allergies.’ I must learn what this  means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I  was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one  of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was  walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the  other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.   The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly  released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird  has got to be an informant.  I observe him communicating with the guards regularly.  I am  certain that he reports my every move.  My captors  have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated  cell, so he is safe.  For now.

“Move”? “3D”? What is Sony doing?

April 5, 2010

image Recently, there’s been a fair amount of talk around Sony’s Playstation MOVE controller as well as their vocal support of 3D technology.  

Based on the demos being done, the MOVE appears to be basically a Wiimote with optical precision around the location of the controller along with the ability to  represent the player’s image in the virtual universe.

Effectively, the benefit of the MOVE controller is that the PS3 knows precisely where your controller is in relation to your body so it’s able to provide an in-game experience by not only allowing you to interact with a game based on the position of the MOVE controller, but also place your body in the game and put objects in your hand based on the controller’s position.  This is often referred to as “augmented reality”.

…I’m sorry but I don’t consider this to be “game-changing” or very innovative.  It’s like a Sony version of the Wii Motion Plus – all of which has been done by Nintendo, with the exception of the globe for more accurate positioning & the incorporation of the Eye toy, which again, is nothing more than a camera. 
And augmented reality is not something that’s taken the market by storm despite its existence for several years now.  It hasn’t grabbed the world’s attention because it’s not really that exciting beyond the initial demonstration.  Perhaps there are simply scenarios that I haven’t recognized yet that might be exciting… but I’ve seen no practical evidence that would change my mind either.


At CES2010 this year, it was revealed that Sony is making a huge investment in 3D technology, particularly with regard to games.  This technology does 4 things: 

  1. RENDER TWO IMAGES:  Within a 3D video game, the console must render not one but two video image feeds of the same viewpoint then delivers them both simultaneously over the video port.  This likely requires twice as much GPU computational power to accomplish and twice as much video memory to generate.
  2. 3D-ENABLED PORT:  Both images are delivered to the video display using a new standard known as HDMI 1.4 to display equipment.  Standard Component Video cabling is not enough, much less lesser connective technologies.
  3. 3D TV or 3D INTERPRETIVE BOX REQUIRED:  The 3D image(s) must be delivered over HDMI 1.4 to something that can consume both video feeds for the left & right eyes.  This is predicted to be NEW TV displays, which you will see advertised as “3D TVs”.  Alternatively, one can buy a 3D ‘box’ which will consume the HDMI 1.4 3D feed and deliver them to an older non-3D capable TV.
  4. GLASSES REQUIRED:  One must be wearing 3D glasses that separates the two images displayed and isolates each feed to each eye, in order to view this image in 3D.

This is the equipment necessary in order for conventional users to play 3D games.  Obviously it requires a fairly significant investment on the part of the consumer – having to buy special 3D enabled games & 3D enabled TVs/display boxes.  This is one of the reasons that consumer electronics vendors – LIKE SONY – are so giddy about the potential of 3D technology:  It requires people to buy new TVs and/or new technology and that means new revenue for those folks.

…I think it should be obvious that I think this is all a giant ‘head shaker’.  Anyone that’s seen the 3D technology on parade at CES over the past few years knows that it’s not much of a paradigm shift, met with a lot of ‘ho hum’ by traditional consumers at the shows.  The experience isn’t very immersive because it just isn’t very natural.  I could be completely wrong on all of this but 3D doesn’t specifically make games more interesting because while stuff ‘flies out at you’ while you play, nothing you the player does naturally affects this 3D experience.

I might see a first person image (like playing Halo or Killzone 2) in 3D however if I change my own personal position relative to the TV it doesn’t change the viewpoint of the image on the screen.  If I have to change my point of view using the thumbs on my GAME CONTROLLER… that’s just lame.  The 3D experience still translates as fake in my brain and registers as non-immersive.  Ask anyone that’s played “Avatar – the Video Game” in 3D.

The Secret Killer App for Xbox 360’s Project Natal (that no one seems to be talking about…)

April 4, 2010

For the record, I have no official knowledge of what the Xbox team is doing with NatalI have no communicated advance/inside information about Microsoft’s plans in the Entertainment & Devices space.  Now – that being said, this is what I personally believe is the secret killer app of Xbox 360’s Project Natal… and for whatever reason, few people in the media seem to have put two and two together about this stuff.  Maybe it’s all conjecture however…

UPDATE June 17th, 2010: 
WHOOPS!  Microsoft General Manager Wil Mozell confirmed what I called Project Natal’s Kinect’s Secret Killer App.

Wil Mozell, a Microsoft GM who oversees many of the companies designing Kinect’s important launch titles:
"Kinect isn’t going to replace the controllers that have worked for those types of games for the last decade—that’s not what we’re trying to do. Kinect will work alongside those controllers for hardcore games. For throwing a grenade, for vocal commands, for…"

"For head tracking??"

"Yes, head tracking! Exactly."

He gets a big smile. He wants to say more. Bound by Microsoft confidentiality agreements, he can’t.

[taken from Gizmodo’s article, “Xbox 360 Kinect Puts ‘Play’ Back in ‘Gameplay’


Take a look at this video by Carnegie Mellon University PhD Researcher, Johnny Chung Lee.  Some of you may have seen this before because it’s frankly 2 years old and leverages a Windows laptop-controlled Nintendo Wii controller & sensor.

In case it wasn’t clear, the killer app is 3D experiences using head tracking – without headgear. There’s a few things to note about Johnny Chung Lee’s demonstration:

    No new equipment –like a 3D TV or HDMI 1.4 middlware – needs to be purchased in the way of A/V consumer electronics.  Today’s projection screen, LCS flat screens & plasma displays are all capable of providing this great 3D-like experience.  More importantly, no special 3D glasses need to be worn to get this experience.  This has vast implications because 3D glasses can cause eye fatigue in people that can wear them, and requires GOGGLES for people that wear eyeglasses, something that’s usually more expensive.
    No interaction is necessary with a game controller to obtain different views in 3D.  All that is necessary is for the game console to be able to tell the distance (Z-axis) and position (X & Y-axis) of the user’s head relative to the TV screen to provide a video image that is relative to these variables.  (i.e. provide a different “angle”)
    Just because your view/perspective in 3D is controlled by your head position, doesn’t mean you can’t ALSO use the controller to control your aim & movement as it normally does when gaming.  The ability for head tracking to change your relative position provides the ability to ‘duck & weave’ interactively making the 3D experience truly immersive.

So with that being said, here’s a few things to know.

    Johnny Lee is the guy you saw in the video.  We hired him as a researcher for Microsoft Applied Sciences.  Excitingly, he’s been working for Microsoft for a while.  After the interface work he did with the Wii, I think he proved that he’s got a unique & valuable insight into how concepts like head tracking and other natural methods of interfacing with computers can be useful & possibly revolutionary.

    Not surprisingly, Johnny Chung Lee’s been working on Project Natal.  Anyone paying attention to his past work as well as his comments on his blog about the work he’s currently doing should be able to spot where Natal & his VR head tracking research have commonalities.  In the post below, he talks about the power of both the hardware & the software that underpins Natal.  Here’s a quick except of what he has to say:

    ”The 3D sensor itself is a pretty incredible piece of equipment providing detailed 3D information about the environment similar to very expensive laser range finding systems but at a tiny fraction of the cost. Depth cameras provide you with a point cloud of the surface of objects that is fairly insensitive to various lighting conditions allowing you to do things that are simply impossible with a normal camera.

    But once you have the 3D information, you then have to interpret that cloud of points as "people". This is where the researcher jaws stay dropped. The human tracking algorithms that the teams have developed are well ahead of the state of the art in computer vision in this domain. The sophistication and performance of the algorithms rival or exceed anything that I’ve seen in academic research, never mind a consumer product. At times, working on this project has felt like a miniature “Manhattan project” with developers and researchers from around the world coming together to make this happen.”

    First of all, let’s clear up a common misconception of the media:  "Project Natal” is NOTHING LIKE the Playstation Eye Toy.  The media continues to use them both in the same breath despite the fact that Eye toy doesn’t have half the technology within Natal.  Sure they’re both video cameras… but that’s where the similarity ENDS.

    One of the many core functions* of “Project Natal” is the ability to recognize objects – such as a player’s head – in real time, and do this using it’s own built-in CPU/processor.  It does not depend on the Xbox 360 for the computation of this information, allowing the primary CPU cores to be used for gaming software.  By providing this as user input, another form of gamer control is added in addition to the game controller.

    This has been demonstrated over and over again.  What makes this amazing is that Natal itself not just recognizes a person’s head, but does it is real time and can tell the relative position of your head relative to the TV.

I’ve just got on last thought to leave you with:

Imagine playing Halo: Reach.  A group of Elites & Brutes are guarding an area just around the corner.  You move your Spartan up to the corner and lean with your head to see around the corner.  You spot the enemies and fire off a few well placed shots using your controller right trigger before Elites start returning fire.  You lean back with your head to stay out of the line of sight and wait for the gunfire to die down… but now you can’t actually see what’s going on around the corner – just as you would in a real firefight.  You notice the ricochets have diminished so you again lean around the corner and throw a grenade using your left trigger and lean back.  Then to change things up, you tippy-toe over the wall to see a view of the enemy that they don’t expect and aren’t watching for.  You see that only one Brute remains.  This should be easy to clean up…


* Project Natal is very much more than just a camera.  It has software & a CPU built into it that enables it to do a variety of things without the assistance of the Xbox console’s CPU.  It can judge distances between objects & the display, recognize speech for voice commands, distinguish between player’s faces, visually recognize player’s movements, identify people in the dark through infrared, interpret player gestures, etc.  For details around what Natal does outside of just “provide an image of the gamer”, take a look at these links:

“Evony” drops libel case against British blogger Bruce Everiss

April 4, 2010

image This was a fascinating story and I’m really glad to have stumbled upon it.

Bruce Everiss, veteran game marketer and a gaming business blogger that I follow was being sued for libel by “the people that make Evony”.  Although, it’s not entirely clear who that is.  Y’see, the origins of Evony are allegedly very much in dispute, if you read through the Guardian’s article as well as Bruce’s own blog on the topic. 

But one thing seems certain to me (if you read & believe Bruce’s posts on Evony) and that is that the people that run Evony seem to believe that they’re above what I consider to be common sense ethics – the biggest of which include the legal protection of Intellectual Property rights.  But when you see their advertising – heavily laden with images of sex, breasts, and lewd photography, some of which allegedly originated from actual porn DVD covers – it seems pretty obvious to this reader that ‘ethics’ isn’t anything that Evony is particularly concerned about.

This lawsuit against Bruce was going on for a fairly long time and made a “must-read-blog” for me.  Here’s a summary of the entire documented drama.  As you can see, each post is somewhat episodic.  It’s so detailed, I really think Bruce could write a book based on the tale and make a good penny, otherwise turning lemons into lemonade.