Ornamental Separator

Salmon in Slices with Prawn Sauce

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

This is a British recipe involving ingredients that weren’t available in the same marine habitat in American waters. The range of the Atlantic Salmon in North America begins in the colder waters of the Northeast, whereas the shrimp is found in southern latitudes.

18th Century

Take about six slices of salmon and lay in soak in what the French call hot marinade; scrape some fat bacon, or a piece of butter, and a little minced shallot, a green onion, a mushroom, sweet basil and parsley, and a very little pepper and salt; fry all gently for two or three minutes, and put your salmon immediately in it, and keep it turned pretty often, with a few slices of lemon and a bay leaf or two; lay it upon your grid-iron made very hot, that you may turn it well; prepare a little cullis of cray-fish or prawns. As for the cray-fish soup, stew the tails in it for a quarter of an hour, with an anchovy chopped fine; add the juice of a lemon, dish up your fish with the sauce puor’d over and garnished with either of your shellfish, taking the shell from the tail. Trouts make an exceeding good dish after the same manner, only broiled whole, and little notches form the eye to the fork.

— Verral, William. Verral’s Complete System of Cookery (1759). London: Sylvan Press, 1948, pg.65.

21st Century


For the shrimp stock

  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ½ lb. shelled crawfish tails
  • shrimp shells, or crayfish bodies along with tail shells
  • 1 anchovy
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of water

For the hot marinade

  • ½ stick butter or 3 slices of bacon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 cup of button mushrooms, minced
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • six 6-oz. salmon fillets


To Make the Stock:

  1. Fry the celery, onion, and carrot in the butter until soft. Then add the shrimp shells or crayfish bodies, lemon juice and anchovy. Saute the ingredients together until fragrant.
  2. Add the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain out the shells and return the broth to the pan. Add in the shelled crayfish tails or uncooked shrimp. Take the pan off the heat and cook the shrimp off the heat. Cover and keep warm.

To Make the Hot Marinade:

  1. Season the salmon steaks with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter or render the bacon fat in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the next six ingredients and cook until the onions and shallots are translucent.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and add the salmon steaks, turning frequently.
  5. Grill or broil the salmon steaks 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with the shrimp/crawfish broth as a sauce, using the shrimp or crayfish tails as garnish.

Learn More


Historic Foodways