Boiling shrimp is probably the most common cooking method for this tasty crustacean. It is simple, fast and does not make a big mess. All you really need is a big pot, water, and shrimp. You can boil shrimp in the kitchen, on the grill or at the beach. You can boil them in the shell or out of the shell; whole or with the head removed. It is all your choice.
An interesting fact about boiling shrimp was discovered through a study published by the Journal of Food Science. They found that boiling cuts down on the levels of the allergen tropomyosin. They suggest that boiling shrimp for 10 minutes can lower these levels enough that many people who are allergic to shellfish could safely eat it. Of course, 10 minutes of boiling may turn the shrimp to rubber.
It is also somewhat risky to take any study seriously unless the results can be repeated, so don’t just run out and boil yourself some shrimp if you’re allergic. Wait for further confirmation on this study. The results are interesting, however, and may lead to further research on how to make seafood safer for those who have allergic reactions.
Adding More Flavor
There are lots of things you can put into the water before you add the shrimp to add more flavor. Celery stalks, onion, lemon, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves, and red pepper all add a distinctive touch to the boiling water that will transfer to the shrimp you cook. Use them all or just your favorites.
Do not forget a little bit of salt. You do not need to worry about chopping any of these seasonings finely; just give them a rough chop and toss them in while the water heats up. Let the water come to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes. You can then strain the water to remove all the bits and return the water to the pan. Bring it back up to a boil before you add the shrimp.
How Long do You Boil Shrimp – It is All in the Timing
Small shrimp only need to cook in the boiling water for about 2 minutes to cook through. Larger shrimp may need another minute. Watch the shrimp change color. Take one out to check it for doneness. Cut it in pieces. If the meat is white all the way through, it is done. You can set the shrimp on ice to stop the cooking process or serve it immediately. Do not overcook your shrimp or you will lose flavor and that delicate texture. Shrimp easily turns to the consistency of rubber when overcooked.
Serve your shrimp with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or eat them plain. Add them to salads or soups. Serve them alongside a nice steak for a deliciously refreshing surf and turf meal. Most come with heavy breaded shrimp; having a light boiled shrimp lets you really taste the flavor of the shrimp. Serve alongside clams, mussels, and crab. You can use them in any number of dishes once they have been boiled.
Photo Credit: Boiled Shrimp I by WordRidden, on Flickr
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