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


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.

35 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.

  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

       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
      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.

  12. Sage 7 says:

    Killer Shrimp restaurant IS STILL OPEN at a different location at 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292‼️😝

  13. S R Dyas says:

    Kurt, there is still a killer shrimp in marina del Rey at 4211 Admiralty way across from the Ramada hotel at mothers beach. Hope you enjoy

    • kurtsh says:

      Yes, I live in the area and have been to the new location many times since it opened. This entire experiment – trying to recreate the soup – took place many years ago between the time when the original location on Washington Blvd was closed down and when the new location opened up on Admiralty. I think Marina Del Rey had about a decade long gap between the original location closing and the new location opening.

  14. Rosemary Taylor says:

    can this soup be frozen after it is completely cooked

    • kurtsh says:

      (Can’t believe people still hit me up on this post it’s so old!) Um, well I imagine you could but if you plan on freezing it, don’t add the butter. If I recall correctly, the butter should be added at the end for a richer taste but before it separates completely with the oil.

  15. Beacher says:

    Killer Shrimp at Mermaids in Hermosa Beach has the recipe. Just had it this afternoon. Good as ever.

    • kurtsh says:

      Heh. This is a very old post. Since then, Killer Shrimp has reopened in Marina Del Rey. There is also Jack Shrimp in Newport Beach that is the brother of the owner of Killer Shrimp in Marina. Ah but the memories.

  16. judi-ks says:

    Killer Shrimp didn’t “close down”, they MOVED to a larger space a few blocks away and ON the water (Mothers Beach/Marina Del Rey) Has been my stomping ground for a decade.
    hd judi

    • kurtsh says:

      Soooo… you’re replying to a post from April 2010. This is also the oldest of 6 posts I wrote on the topic. ( And I responded to this exact point 4 times in the comments.
      And yes, if you want to get technical, Killer Shrimp did in fact close down on Washington for many, many years. After they shutdown, the original plan was to move the restaurant to Chicago (I was told it was a family matter that necessitated the move) and they ceased operations in Marina for 5+ years. The ownership eventually reopened in the new location several years later after a change in their situation and the availability of the location.

      • Shanna says:

        I first went to Killer Shrimp in 1989. We then moved to OC and I have been to Jack’s Shrimp (apparently a brother of Killer) in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Aliso Viejo. All OC locations have closed since but just discovered Jack opened a new place called Campus Jax across from John Wayne Airport. They have the shrimp!

        I’m from Texas and we eat a lot of Cajun food there. We’ve been making this shrimp for years. I have numerous Cajun/Louisiana cookbooks and there are different variations of this shrimp. The one we like best and closet to Killer shrimp is Paul Prudhomme’s barbecued Shrimp (nothing to do with using a bbq). He has a line of products online ( Magic seasoning blends) and they have the recipe there except the difference from my cookbook version is that they use a seasoning they sell instead of all the spices listed in the cookbook. You can find Paul’s cookbook recipe with the individual spices listed online.

        Whenever we would have shrimp dishes we would save and freeze the tails and heads to make shrimp stock then when I had enough I’d make the shrimp stock and freeze it. I have used clam juice as a substitute since this wasn’t always convenient.

      • kurtsh says:

        Love love love this comment. Especially the reference to Paul Prudhomme. One of my top 5 favorite restaurants in the world is Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s of New Orleans where I learned of his vast collection of Magic branded spices and mixes. I already have a huge cannister of his Shrimp Magic in the cupboard. I will look into this cookbook because I no longer have the time to cook but my son and my wife are very much into experimenting. Thank you!

  17. Steve Skouson says:

    That picture you showed of the original
    place, I could see that from my apartment,
    just across the street. I lived at was, the
    Oakwood Apartments, just across Washington.

    Yes, friends would call me up, to see what the
    line was like. Sometimes, people would be
    on the stairs, waiting.


    • kurtsh says:

      I stayed at those Oakwood Apts when I first arrived in LA for my current job back in 1995. Memories!

      • John says:

        Seems there are a few of us Oakwood apt veterans here. My company (Quarterdeck) put me up at that same Oakwood apts complex for nearly a year in 1997-98 and I always loved the trek across the street to Killer Shrimp!

  18. shanna says:

    Glad you liked my reply! If your in Orange County go to Campus Jax. They serve nice size gulf shrimp with lots of broth and bread!

  19. Leslie says:

    It’s Cream Sherry. Not Wine or Beer. And there is Old Bay Seasoning in it and also at the end of the simmer and shrimp shells to a metal strainer and set it inside the pot for 45 minutes to abstract the flavor, pressing and stirring to get the most out so the broth be it chicken or clam with develop the shrimp flavor. Dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel and celery seed should all be combined and put in an electric coffee grinder, then added. Simmer covered for 3 hours extracting shrimp shell in the last 45 minutes. When it tastes perfect, turn it off!! Take it off the burner of it will continue to reduce and become too salty. Your welcome!

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