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A curry of shrimp… & pears.

This eccentric recipe also uses anchovy essence. We found the original version in an equally eccentric, and endearing, 1971 cookbook called The Sporting Wife. Its editor, Barbara Hargeaves, refers not to the oldest profession but rather to women whose husbands hunt and fish.

Hargeaves has assembled over 300 pages of recipes contributed by six sporting wives along with a few professional outliers including Marguerite Patten. The book is generously illustrated with superb wood engravings by two forgotten artists, Thomas Bewick and William Dickes.

Bewick worked during the second half of the eighteenth century and Dickes during the middle of the nineteenth; appropriately enough, his engravings are the more ornate.

Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in the recipe; this is fast and easy food, an Old School and interesting English curry. Four servings.

-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-a large onion sliced into thin crescents
-½ cushrimp-dish2.jpgp peeled diced apple
-½ cup green bell pepper
-½ cup red bell pepper
-2 Tablespoons ground rice
-1 Tablespoon curry powder
-about 1½ cups shrimp or chicken stock, or clam juice
-1 Tablespoon Sporting Wife anchovy curry paste (see the Notes)
-1 teaspoon chutney (also see the Notes)
-2 peeled and sliced pears
-2 heaped Tablespoons raisins
-1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly (not a typographical error)
-1 lb peeled raw shrimp

  1. Melt the butter over medium low heat and cook the onion with some salt until it softens: Do not let it brown.
  2. Add the apple and bells, reduce the heat to low and cook for a couple of minutes, then stir the curry powder and ground rice into the mix.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Gradually pour the stock into the pan until you get the consistency you like, then dump in all of the other ingredients except for the shrimp.
  5. Bring the curry to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp to the curry, increase the heat to medium, and cook the curry just until the shrimp curl into pink rounds.
  7. Serve with rice and, if you are ambitious, poppadams along with traditional English garnishes for curry like crumbled bacon, grated coconut, chopped hard boiled egg, chopped peanuts and the like.


- To make Sporting Wife anchovy curry paste, combine a Tablespoon each of ground caraway and coriander with a teaspoon each of black pepper and turmeric; ½ teaspoon nutmeg, a heaped ¼ teaspoon cayenne, 2 teaspoons malt vinegar and 2 Tablespoons of anchovy essence.

- The britishfoodinamerica recipe for anchovy essence appears in the practical.

- To make a quick shrimp stock, simmer the shells with some peppercorns the onion scraps for about 20 minutes.

- The recipe does not indicate what kind of chutney to use. We think it likeliest that its author would have slected a hot mango chutney if she had some. We like the coriander chutney bottled in the United States by Swad or, failing that, the more traditional Major Grey’s.

- Notwithstanding our admiration for The Sporting Housewife, it is hard to discern just what this recipe has to do with huntin’, shootin’ or fishin’; the original recipe calls for “1 4-oz. tin peeled prawns or big shrimps, more if you have them,” and this in 1971.

- Do not be tempted by fripperies like garlic, ginger or coconut in assembling this dish; they are bedrock components of a conventional curry but this is not that.

- The original recipe uses “red jam” rather than redcurrant jelly but we really cannot envision raspberry; that road leads only to pizza delivery.