Pass The Shrimp

Shrimp is an incredibly versatile seafood but it can be confusing too. Learn all you need to know!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator border_width=”2″][vc_column_text]This week’s menu includes two great recipes featuring shrimp. We love cooking with this low calorie, high protein shellfish, but it can be a confusing ingredient for a few different reasons. There are numerous species of shrimp and you’ll find that it is an item that is sold in many different ways. These ways include, cooked or raw, unpeeled and peeled (shell removed), tailless, head on or off, and vein intact or removed. To further complicate things, there’s the term ‘prawn’ which is often used interchangeably with shrimp, but can refer to larger varieties of shrimp and is used more commonly outside of North America.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Typically, uncooked, frozen, head-off, peel-on shrimp are recommended for most preparations.” font_container=”tag:h4|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1594309999426{margin-top: 30px !important;margin-right: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 30px !important;margin-left: 50px !important;padding-top: 25px !important;padding-right: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;padding-left: 25px !important;background-color: #212931 !important;border-radius: 4px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Typically, uncooked, frozen, head-off, peel-on shrimp are recommended for most preparations. That is unless you live somewhere that you have access to live shrimp from the ocean. The reason that frozen shrimp are usually the best option is because most shrimp that you find sold in grocery stores were frozen at sea and thawed, so there’s no saying how long they have been defrosted for. As for the heads, they contain a bitter, pungent juice which can be quite polarizing. That said, head-on shrimp are wonderful for stocks and sauces, since they will impart lots of flavor! [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”8897″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow”][vc_column_text]Next, there is the sizing system. Shrimp are sold based on the number of individual shrimp per pound. For example, a 16/20 count of shrimp means that there are between 16 and 20 shrimp in a pound. You may also see a letter U label as well (i.e. U10), which means that fewer than 10 shrimp make up a pound. This is a common count for larger shrimp. Another way to think of this is that the smaller the count is, the larger the shrimp. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the smallest shrimp can range anywhere from 100-500 per pound! [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2278″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow”][vc_custom_heading text=”Freshness is crucial to all fish and seafood but especially when it comes to shrimp, since they are highly perishable.” font_container=”tag:h4|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1594310065403{margin-top: 30px !important;margin-right: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 30px !important;margin-left: 50px !important;padding-top: 25px !important;padding-right: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;padding-left: 25px !important;background-color: #212931 !important;border-radius: 4px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Freshness is crucial to all fish and seafood but especially when it comes to shrimp, since they are highly perishable. When buying fresh shrimp, ensure that there is no foul smell. You’ll also want to steer clear of shrimp that are limp and slimy, both of which are signs of decay. Maybe you’re wondering why you should bother deveining shrimp. Well, that black bit that runs along the tail of the shrimp is actually its digestive tract. Technically, it’s edible but it can contain sand and grit, plus it doesn’t provide the best flavor. The easiest way to devein shrimp is with a sharp paring knife. Just snip or cut a ridge along the top of the shrimp from the wide end toward the tail and scrape out the black strip. Problem solved. 

When it comes to thawing frozen shrimp, the easiest method is to remove them from their packaging and place them in a bowl of cold (never warm) water until defrosted. An even faster thawing method is to place the bowl under cold running water. For most recipes, it’s recommended to dry your shrimp with paper towels before preparation. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”8964″ img_size=”600×400″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow”][vc_column_text]Shrimp are popular for a reason. They pair with a lot of different flavors and they can be prepared in many different ways. Methods include grilling, broiling, frying, and steaming, any of which you can do with the shell on or off. Unfortunately, shrimp are often overcooked and, as such, can get a bad rep. Remember that shrimp cook extremely fast, often under one minute! For this reason, it is best to add them at the very end of whatever dish it is that you are preparing – you’ll know they’re cooked when they change from translucent to opaque pink in color. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the shells after you discard them as they can be used to make an amazing bisque or stock. Just freeze them in a zip-top bag until you’re ready to use them. You’ll thank yourself later!