Pickled Shrimp


Would you ever think to name a restaurant based on your childhood nickname? Well Gabrielle “Prune” Hamilton did exactly that. She is chef-owner of Prune, the restaurant, which has been successful since its opening in 1999. The cookbook, Prune, was published in 2014.

I enjoyed reading the recipes in Prune; they all seem unique in some way. But one recipe that grabbed my attention, was pickled shrimp. This was definitely a new one for me.

When I serve a shrimp appetizer, I typically serve it marinated in a garlic-infused olive oil, an oil blended with herbs, or both!

Ms. Hamilton’s recipe has you cooking the raw shrimp in a spice and herb boil, followed by a 24-hour pickling. I just had to make it.

Pickled shrimp
Printable recipe below

2 pounds shrimp in shell

10 bay leaves
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 cup kosher salt
6 branches fresh thyme
1 unpeeled head of garlic
8 cups cold water

1 cup paper-thin sliced lemons
1 cup paper-thin sliced red onion
1 cup thin-slivered garlic
1 cup inner celery leaves
3 tablespoons celery seeds
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
12 fresh bay leaves
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt, Pepper

Peel the shrimp, devein, and leave the tails on. Oops, I forgot to leave the tails on.

Combine the boil ingredients in a large stockpot with cold water and bring to a boil.

Add the shrimp and cook for just a minute or two until the flesh turns pink. You can pull one out and test if it’s finished before you pull out the whole batch.

Remove the shrimp with a spider. Ice down the shrimp to get them to stop cooking, but don’t let them soak in the melted ice after they are cooled or you will waterlog them and undo all that nice seasoning.

Combine all the pickle ingredients, rub the fresh bay leaves between your hands to open them up a bit, toss with the cooled shrimp, and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator. (I only had dried bay leaves.)

Let recover to almost room temperature before serving. To plate, place 4-5 shrimp and a little of all of the goodies, in a neat jumble, in a small, shallow bowl.

Note: The shrimp will continue to “cook” in the pickle marinade, so take care in the initial blanch to keep them rare; we don’t want to end up with mealy, over cooked shrimp after the pickling.

These shrimp were so good that you can almost see the number of shrimp dwindling as I photographed them!

These shrimp require some time and also a lot of good ingredients, so I recommend making 6-8 pounds of pickled shrimp. Then it’s definitely worth the effort and expense.

Gabrielle’s first book, Blood, Bones, and Butter, was published before her cookbook, in 2012.

It’s an award-winning memoir – the story of Gabrielle’s upbringing, her entrée into the culinary profession, and her reluctance to embrace her hard-earned skills and success in the kitchen. I could not put the book down once I started reading.



71 thoughts on “Pickled Shrimp

  1. What was your nickname? Would it work? Latest I remember was Billie (billecart salmon – my surname used to be fisher, and I loved champagne). I think I’ve got it nailed (if I was opening an Australiana campfire store, or a bong shop).

    • HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s funny. My nickname was always my name – Mimi. Prune is a very odd nickname if you think about it. Well, I’m not opening a restaurant or a bong shop, so I don’t have to worry about it!

  2. I’ve seen this done before, and they were lovely, but I particularly like the combination used in the boil here. I’ll bet the flavors paired with the pickling were something.

    • All of the layers of flavor were excellent. I tried so hard to think of what I could pickle with the remaining liquid, but it tasted a big fishy, so I could only think of pickling more shrimp. I’d have done that if my husband ate pickled food, but he doesn’t.

  3. I love pickled anything! I never thought about actually “pickling” shrimp! What a fantastic idea! I’ve pickled seeds before and served them over shrimp, but I’m going to have to try this!

    • Make a big batch for company. There’s a lot of olive oil that goes into the pickling liquid. I hated throwing it out, but I couldn’t figure out what else to pickle in it. It was fishy.

  4. Your thoughts on Hamilton’s memoir are like mine — a good book. Have you seen her episodes on Mind of a Chef? She’s very likable!

    I haven’t looked at her cookbook, but those shrimp are tempting. The only problem is that it is a challenge to avoid the farm-raised shrimp from Southeast Asia, which are raised in ecologically destructive farms, using slave labor, and in not-very-sanitary conditions. What else could be wrong with them? hard to say!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • I so enjoyed her memoir. I’ll have to check out her episode – I hadn’t spotted that. I’m sure she’s as fun in person as she is a writer! Terrible about the shrimp.

    • Thank you! It was actually hard to photograph a pile of shrimp! But they were so good. You could definitely add some tequila in this pickling liquid to replace some of the lemon juice.

  5. I think these are what we Brits would call prawns. Shrimps for us are tiny things with more flavour than any prawns, the most famous of which come from Morecambe Bay on the west coast of England. They are usually ‘potted’ in butter.
    Nevertheless, the pickled ‘prawns’ look delicious and I’ll probably try to do some; as I think you know Stephane’s prawns flamed in Ricard are one of my favourite recipes.

  6. I eat shrimps both warm and cold (in salads) but I would never think of pickling them after they are cooked. Sound like a very original and delicious dish!

    • They’re so darn good and addictive. But just like the chef said, it’s important not to over cook the shrimp in the boil, because the pickling also cooks them.

    • Thank you so much Conor! I’ve started relaxing more over the years. I used to perspire profusely when photographing food!

  7. I have a similar recipe and made the mistake of pickling them in advance of a dinner. They got very rubbery! Your hints on lightly cooking them are excellent!

    • that’s really unfortunately. I was even wondering if the boil was necessary, and if they could be pickled raw?

  8. Thanks…this looks like one to try. I really like Gabrielle Hamiltons unique approach after hearing about her on the show ‘Mind of a Chef’. I have tried her Potato Rosti and it is delicious…

    • Somehow this went to my spam folder. crazy. Anyway, I’ve just started watching her on that show. Interesting personality! Loved her memois.

  9. I have never had pickled shrimp, but looking at this is making my mouth water! I’m going to have to try this!!

  10. I haven’t thought of pickled shrimp for many years. As a youngster raised on the Gulf coast of Texas, we’d have them often. Nice memory Mimi – Thanks. Great recipe and one I’m destined to try…

    • Yes, I mentioned it at the end of the post. Hysterically wonderful! And it was published before the cookbook.

  11. I always learn something new off of your recipe posts Mimi. Today I learned “rub the fresh bay leaves between your hands to open them up a bit”. I usually just chuck them into my soups and stews, but I can totally see how doing this would “waken” the bay leaves up! Especially when they’ve been sitting in a packet in my cupboard for ages! You know I can’t even remember the qualified chef’s doing that in the hotel kitchen I worked in for 6 years as a student!! You can be sure I’ll be doing that from now on! And boy those shrimp look good!

    • That’s such a lovely complement, even though this wasn’t my recipe! But the bay leaf thing makes so much sense, except that my bay plant didn’t come back this year, so I used dried bay leaves. There was still a bay aroma when I rubbed the dried leaves, though, so I’m with you – I think I’ll always do that!

    • Maybe! I only have one Southern cookbook and a couple of Creole/Cajun cookbooks. I’ll have to see if there’s anything in those. I don’t remember, because I think I would have made pickled shrimp years ago, but who knows! Nonetheless it’s a wonderful recipe!

  12. I have to look at a recipe for large parties that I made way back. I love the idea of pickling shrimp. This recipe looks great.

    • It’s a wonderful recipe, and it was fun to make. My husband won’t eat vinegar or, obviously, anything pickled, so I ate the whole amount all by myself!

  13. I love pickled shrimp and have posted 2 versions on my blog. One of those versions was my mother’s recipe. She was a rather sophisticated cook for the 1970s. I have that book Prune too and have noticed this beautiful version as well, but I’ve got to admit I find most of the recipes in that book very hard to follow. Kudos to you for tackling one of them. GREG

    • Interesting. I don’t remember that reaction, but typically when I first read a cookbook I bookmark recipes to make, and probably don’t really read through the recipe instructions. I’d definitely never heard of pickled shrimp before!

    • P.S. You see pickled shrimp a lot on the Southeast coast. I had a big plate of it in Charleston a couple of weeks ago. It’s good, isn’t it?

      • That’s one part of the country I haven’t frequented, so that’s probably why I’d never heard of it! It is yummy stuff!

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