At the grocery store, you will have the choice to buy either raw or cooked shrimp. Most people choose the already cooked shrimp. For some reason, they feel intimidated by these little ocean creatures and are afraid to learn how to cook raw shrimp. Shrimp is so easy to cook! Buying raw shrimp and cooking them yourself will give you more flavor. It will also give you properly cooked shrimp. Cooked shrimp should not be tough or rubbery in texture.
Checking for Freshness
The first thing you need to do is check for freshness before you even buy your shrimp. Fresh shrimp will smell clean. Shrimp that smells like ammonia are already decomposing. Avoid them! Fresh shrimp should be displayed on ice in a fish market. Frozen shrimp should still have its shell. If you are buying frozen shrimp, you do not want to see surface ice coating the shrimp. This tells you the shrimp has been defrosted and refrozen.
Preparing Your Shrimp
You can refresh frozen shrimp by soaking them in salt water. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 quart of water for a good seasoning. Fresh shrimp keeps best in ice water. Before cooking, pat them dry with a paper towel. If you want to remove the “vein” along the back, make a quick slit and pull it out. Normally it makes no difference if it is in or out, but it may contain grit and digested material, especially in larger shrimp. To remove the vein, you either need to peel the shrimp first or use a deveining tool that slides beneath the shell.
You can cook shrimp whole. If you prefer, you can remove the head first. Just pinch it off. Most shrimp is sold with the head already removed, however. If you can cook the shrimp in the shell, you will be rewarded with more shrimp flavor, but you can easily just peel it off. If you need seafood stock for another dish, use the heads and shells to help add that delicious flavor to the broth.
You can boil, sauté, fry, steam, grill, and broil or bake shrimp. To boil shrimp, bring two quarts of water to a boil for every pound of shrimp you want to cook. Do not forget to salt the water a little bit. You can also add other seasonings, lemon juice, herbs or whatever you want. Turn the heat off under the pan and dump the shrimp in. Let them sit in the hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. This cooks the shrimp gently. When done, the shell will turn pink and the meat should be opaque. Remove immediately. To stop any further cooking, you can put them on ice.
You can also pan fry shrimp. Add oil or butter to a hot pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic if you are using it. Drop the shrimp in. Add a little salt. Stir the shrimp constantly while in the pan while they cook. When they turn pink, take one out, and test it for doneness. Just cut it in half to see if the interior is opaque. Remove from heat promptly to avoid overcooking.
Picture, recipes and/or content upgraded: 01-12-16
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