In last night’s series premier of HBO’s Silicon Valley, chef Wylie Dufresne was credited with making something called "liquid shrimp." Here, what he thought of it and how he would really make the dish. 

By Justine Sterling
Updated May 23, 2017
Photo © Ethan Hill

In last night’s series premier of HBO’s Silicon Valley (the new project from Mike Judge, of Beavis and Butt-head fame), the show’s promising young programmers find themselves at a crazy party where Kid Rock is the entertainment and Wylie Dufresne of New York’s WD-50 is the caterer. On the menu: something called “liquid shrimp,” which one of the show’s characters says costs $200 a quart. His review of the dish is unfavorable to say the least—he compares it to a certain bodily excretion. Needless to say, we wondered what Dufresne (who did not actually appear on the show) thought of all this, and how he’d make a real-life, delicious version of liquid shrimp.

“Liquid shrimp just sounds like a delicious shrimp consommé,” Dufresne says. “But given the description of the dish on the show, it seems they were going for something different.” If Dufresne were really making this, he’d start with high-quality shrimp, like ruby red shrimp or rock shrimp from Florida, and a mirepoix. Those ingredients would be the base of a double stock (one standard stock, and then a second one using the first stock instead of water for a major flavor boost). After adding tomato paste and Cognac and cooking the whole thing down, he’d strain it, mashing the shrimp shells to extract as much flavor as possible, and then clarify it using egg whites. He says the result would be “a very clear, very shrimp broth”—which sounds a lot better than what they had on Silicon Valley.

Still, Dufresne says he isn’t offended by the show’s depiction of his food. “I think in the spirit of playing along like Kid Rock did, I’ll take it both as a compliment and a dig.”