Shrimp is the second most popular seafood in the U.S., and it happens to be my favorite seafood. I love to prepare it and eat it in many different ways. A bit later I will touch on how to peel cooked shrimp, but first I wanted to share a few tips.
Factors to Consider When Buying Quality Shrimp
I prefer to cook the shrimp with the shell on, but I do not like to devein it, so I buy shell-on, deveined shrimp. Once in a while I remove the shell, but most of the time I don’t. More because I think this extra step takes takes too long but also because I have read that it is a good idea to leave the shell on to retain flavor.
The article below suggest that the quality of the shrimp suffers when it is pre-shelled shrimp due to the extra handing. For me, it is the added cost of having someone else peel the shrimp for me is not worth it, plus I agree with the experts that cooking it in the shell makes it taste better. Once in a while I do remove the shells before cooking, but it is not often.
The grocery store usually carries several varieties of shrimp and unfortunately the prices vary drastically. Of course, the freshest, wild caught shrimp is the one that usually costs the most. Sometimes for me, the most expensive shrimp is not the one that has the taste that I prefer. I usually prefer the taste of a large farmed white shrimp. The seafood market staff and their posted documentation states that they purchase from vendors that use sustainable farming practices. I just hope that this is the case.
When I cook the shrimp with the shell on, I usually only add fresh garlic and seasoning salt and maybe lemon or lime juice. I remove the shell only when I am going to cook it with my spicy salsa or when I opt to add sliced serrano or red bell peppers because I like how the shrimp absorbs the nice flavors of these two ingredients.
Some experts recommend to buy whole shrimp so that the removed parts can be used to make a stock, but I have never tried doing this myself. I will try it next time I attemp to make a seafood soup.
How To Devein Shrimp
To devein the shrimp yourself, use kitchen shears to cut through the shell along the middle of the top of the shrimp, and then make a shallow cut on the shrimp along the open shell. This exposes the “vein” or the degistive tract, which is what it really is. I suppose you could try to cut the shell and the shrimp at the same time, but then you might cut open the “vein”, which is no big deal, but it is easier to be able to remove the whole thing without cutting it.
The following article Everything You Need To Know To Buy Better Shrimp is a great source to learn more about the factors to consider when buying shrimp. This expert actually recommends that unless you are absolutely sure that you are buying fresh shrimp directly from the boat, that you buy frozen shrimp. I hadn’t really thought about it, but what the author says makes sense. Most of the shrimp at the grocery store is pre-frozen, and we know this because the labels usually indicate that. Well if it was pre-frozen, and when we buy it, it is no longer frozen, that means that it has sat on the refrigerated case a bit, and then it may sit in our refrigerator a bit longer. It would be better to purchase it frozen and allow it to defrost at home, with cold water when we are ready to use, if it hasn’t defrosted already. I think I like this idea.
How to Peel Shrimp
Since I cook and serve the shrimp with the shell more often, and because I don’t like to get my hands dirty, I have had a lot of practice peeling cooked shrimp using the technique which you can see on this very short video titled, How to Peel Cooked Shrimp Without Getting Your Hands Dirty. I use a fork and a knife to remove the shell, and I never have to handle the shrimp with my hands.
There are times when removing the shell from cooked shrimp is more difficult than others. For the most part, a well cooked shrimp will have a loose shell that does not stick to the flesh. To achieve this, the shrimp must be cooked fast in high heat. Conversely, overcooking shrimp will likely result in the shell sticking to the flesh.
Read a few more tips about ways to prepare shrimp on this post about garlic.
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