Birmingham super chef Glynn Purnell heads out to sea to catch brown shrimps for his latest TV appearance, writes Roz Laws.
As a child growing up in Chelmsley Wood, the ultimate culinary treat for Glynn Purnell was potted shrimp.
Now the Birmingham chef is on a mission to revive the fortunes of the humble British brown shrimp, which is losing out to larger foreign imports like the jumbo prawn.
He makes the case for the shellfish on the BBC2 programme Great British Food Revival, screened tonight.
The Michelin-starred chef goes out on a tractor at Morecambe Bay to fish for the ‘sweet and unique’ brown shrimp and declares: “This little shrimp may not be as big and attractive as jumbo prawns, but it packs much more in flavour.
“We import 80,000 tonnes of shrimp and prawns from Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil.
“Most of the supermarkets have given up on British shrimp, which could soon be wiped from our culinary heritage.”
The 37-year-old father-of-two has fond memories of eating British shrimp as a boy.
“I’m a working class Brummie, my dad was a factory worker and my mum a dinner lady,” says Glynn, a former winner and now mentor on BBC’s Great British Menu.
“We’d go out to social clubs and the ultimate treat would be when the shellfish man came round. We’d get a little pot of cockles and a pot of whelks.
“The ultimate prize was the potted shrimp with vinegar and white pepper. Unbelievably tasty.
“You’d be running round to the sounds of Abba and begging for a bowl of shrimps, though you’d usually get the cockles.”
Glynn heads off to Morecambe Bay at the 6am low tide to fish for brown shrimp on a tractor, six miles out on the wet sand.
At the height of the shrimp trade, up to 50 men would be out trawling using horses and carts. Now there’s just a handful, who barely make a living as the price for their catch is so low.
The shrimp are taken ashore and cooked as soon as possible, boiled to turn a pinky brown.
One of the oldest known ways of preserving them is potted shrimp, mixed with spice and sealed with butter.
On Great British Food Revival, Glynn shows viewers how to cook his recipe of spicy potted shrimp with cucumber salad.
He adds a kick to the shrimp with hot chilli, ginger, garam masala curry powder and smoked paprika.
“I’m bringing the British shrimp bang up to date by giving it a spice infusion,” he says. “It’s a classic potted shrimp with a Brummie twist.
“It reminds me of my childhood, eating potted shrimp on toast as a treat on Friday.