Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with Fennel and Lemon


A surprisingly easy, flavorful, pretty and economical dish to make ahead when you want to impress for less, with little fuss.

Here’ another old favorite from my “starving actor” Hollywood days when money was tight but we wanted to feed a crowd in style. Super simple to put together, tasty and versatile, it’s a wonderful make ahead dish for a warm day or night, but also eye-catching for a dinner party appetizer or on a buffet any time of year. This dish complements my  Wild Rice Salad beautifully. Add a simple green salad and crusty bread on the side to sop up any marinade juices and you’re golden!

In the old days we’d just buy frozen cooked, peeled, tail-on jumbo shrimp, thaw in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes, pat dry, and put it all together. However, I usually have shell-on uncooked jumbo shrimp in the freezer, which I think maintains a little more flavor.  Shell-on frozen or fresh, simply blanche the shrimp in a pot boiling water for about three minutes until opaque, put them in a bowl of cold water, and then peel. It elevates the taste even more – but it is not essential to this preparation if frozen makes life easier.  The lemons and fennel work wonders even on the frozen cooked, peeled, tail-on jumbo shrimp. Take care to buy sustainably caught shrimp in any case!


So vibrant on this lovely black bowl from Haandmade.

Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with Fennel and Lemon

A surprisingly easy, flavorful, pretty and economical dish to make ahead when you want to impress for less, with little fuss.
Prep Time15 minutes
Chill2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Californian, Mediterranean
Keyword: chilled, dairy-free, easy peasy, fresh herbs, gluten-free, make ahead, marinade, pescatarian


  • 32 oz jumbo frozen shrimp, cooked, tail-on, thawed see notes if you are uncooked frozen, or fresh
  • 5 lemons 3 cut into thin wheels, and in half again, 2 juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and gently smashed
  • 3 large fennel bulbs cored, bulb portion cut into thin rings and in half again, separated - save top fronds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper more to your liking
  • 3 pinches Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 4 grinds fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tso fennel seeds


  • Thaw the frozen shrimp in a bowl of water for 10-15 min. Drain well and pat dry.
  • Cut 3 lemons into thin wheels, discarding the ends. Juice the other two lemons. Set aside.
  • Cut the tops off the fennel, saving aside the fronds. Core the bulbs, and with a sharp knife or mandolin, cut into thin rings, and then cut in half again and separate. Set aside.
  • Peel and gently smash the garlic cloves with the flat edge of large knife to release their fragrance.
  • In a large serving bowl, layer shrimp, fennel slices, and lemon wheels.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, fennel seed, garlic salt, and pepper. Add the bay leaves and then pour over everything in the bowl. Gently toss with your hands or two large wooden spoons to coat. Sprinkle fennel fronds and cayenne pepper over the top, stir once more.
  • Cover with cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Gently stir every few hours along the way when you can.
  • Before serving, give it all one more big gentle stir and serve. Add a few more fennel fronds for garnish if desired.


If you prefer to use frozen uncooked shell-on shrimp, just blanche them in boiling water for 3 minutes until opaque, put them in a bowl of cold water and peel, leaving the tail on if you like, which I do. By all means if you've got cooked fresh shrimp available, that's fine too!

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© Kirsten Lara Getchell 2020. All rights reserved.