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)

INGREDIENTS:

      • 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

DIRECTIONS:

  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.

————

References:

  1. http://quantumrelativity.calsci.com/Recipes/KillerShrimp.html
  2. http://www.recipegoldmine.com/fishseaK/killer-shrimp.html
  3. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540371
  4. http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/Killer-Shrimp-Soup/Detail.aspx
  5. http://steamykitchen.com/80-killer-cajun-shrimp.html
  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.

18 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 https://kurtsthoughts.com/2010/04/24/in-search-of%E2%80%A6-the-recipe-for-marina-del-rey%E2%80%99s-%E… 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.

    Thanks….

  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:
      https://kurtsthoughts.com/?s=killer+shrimp

      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.

  8. Leslie says:

    I did not use chicken broth. I used a 64oz can of clam broth and peeled the shrimp and simmered the shrimp shells in the broth for 45 minutes and strained it. Now I have shrimp broth. Sautéed onions in butter. Added tomatoe paste, minced garlic, and all of the aromatics until the paste turned a dark rich red and added a cup of sherry wine and let it reduce. Then I added the shrimp broth. Let it simmer for an hour. Now is the time to season with salt. If you do it prior, the broth will reduce and get way too salty. The big secret that everyone thinks is beer, it’s not. The broth itself needs body. A thickener. Something that cohesively brings all of the flavors together. So I added a cup of heavy cream. And that Folks, is how it’s done! Simmer until it reduces just a bit and you can see the tiny droplets of melted butter on top. Add the peeled shrimp, simmer for about 8 minutes, you do not want to over cook the shrimp which the actual KS restaurant is famous for serving over cooked, rubbery shrimp. Say “grace” and serve. Bon appetite!

    • Sautee the herbs, black pepper and capsicum with red curry in butter to release their flavor. Add Worcester, red table wine and a touch of vermouth. Lastly add the garlic, sautee lightly so it won’t burn. Add water. Boil then simmer until the broth reduces sufficiently. Add more butter, if necessary, and cook whole shrimp in the broth when ready to plate.

  9. deborah sauceda says:

    It’s seafood stock, beer, lots of butter, clarified if possible and maybe Saffron which is very hard to find and expensive

  10. Missy Cross says:

    I know it is beer because we had a friend who was a cook at Jack’s Shrimp. The cool thing was that one of the ways that Jack protected the recipe was by having the spices premixed in house, and by having the wet ingredients mixed per order by different cooks. But if a cook was hired to put in wet ingredients “A” then he or she would remain doing that. Not to mention, I believe they only ever had a couple of cooks on staff.

    • susie says:

      hi there-
      i used this site to start my killer shrimp endeavour. after many, many iterations, here’s what we came up with. it’s pretty darn close.

      Killer Shrimp

      INGREDIENTS:
       ½ small onion, diced
       ¼ tsp. cumin
       1 celery rib, diced
       1 moderate sized carrot, diced
       2 heads garlic, chopped/diced small
       ¼ stick unsalted butter
       2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
       2 TB FRESH rosemary
       3 teaspoons dried thyme
       ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (or more to taste)
       2 teaspoon celery seed
       1 teaspoon fennel seed
       Salt (wait till the end to see if you need it)
       ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (this makes it extremely mild, add to taste)
       8oz clam juice
       3 tablespoons (3 oz) of tomato paste
       1 cup beer (ale)
       1 ½ – 2 pounds shrimp, with tails
       1 (1 pound) loaf French bread
       ¼ c. Heavy Cream
      DIRECTIONS:
      1. Saute onion and cumin with some of the butter then add celery, carrots, garlic and the rest of the butter and saute until fragrant and soft in a large pot. Do not use more than a pad here. (Add shrimp shells if you have them)
      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. (I blended with an immersion blender, but not necessary)
      5. Stir beer into the broth mixture and continue to simmer and occasionally stir 2 hours.
      6. Finish with cream.
      7. Just before serving, stir in shrimp. Continue cooking 3-5 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque. Remove and place in serving bowl.
      8. Serve with bread.
      *** If adding clams, separate broth into two pots and cook seafood separately. Clams should take about 2 mins and are ready when they open up.

      Garlic Pasta
      Melt some butter and oil in a pan. Add as much chopped garlic and saute till just soft (not brown). Add cooked pasta and a little bit of the pasta water.

  11. You probably know this, but Killer Shrimp has been back for a few years now. They are in a much bigger building on Admiralty near Palawan where Harbor House used to be. Bon apetit!

    • kurtsh says:

      Yeah, see my comment above that begins with, “…there was less of a need being that the new Killer Shrimp opened up in Marina Del Rey off of Admiralty Way.”

      My office is less than 10min down the road from the Marina so it’s a regular stop for us these days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: