What are my special features?
Morecambe Bay Shrimp are tiny brown shrimp, about 6cm long with distinctive pinky-brown colouring and a mild, sweet, succulent taste. They are caught in the shallow waters, sands and muds of Morecambe Bay on the Lancashire coast.
Although the shrimp are sometimes available cooked in the shell they are most famously served ‘potted’ i.e. boiled (traditionally in sea water), shelled and preserved in spiced, clarified butter, and served cold with thin toast. Due to the peeling involved, production is labour intensive.
What is my history?
Shrimping has been a traditional occupation in the Morecambe Bay area since the 18th century, but the technique of preserving the shrimp for sea journeys is reputedly said to date back to Tudor times. The industry expanded in the 19th century when the railways enabled the product to be distributed more widely, but it was only in the early 1930’s that they became popular among the fashionable tea tables of London. The shrimp were originally packed in small earthenware or china pots, now replaced by plastic cartons.
Some producers traditionally use distinctive boats called ‘nobbies’ while others rely on tractors (formerly horses and carts) to cross the dangerous estuary sands. It is thought that there is a small degree of difference in size (and, arguably, juiciness) between shrimp from the different ends of Morecambe Bay.
Why am I forgotten?
While there is still a small fleet of one man boats which fish for Morecambe Bay Shrimp, the size of the industry has declined significantly. Essential local knowledge of the shifting quicksand and tidal patterns is required and this knowledge has been lost through many generations of fishermen.
Don’t lose me… cook me!