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How to Cook Perfect Shrimp

Seafood may be an intimidating food to cook at home, but we’re confident we’ll have you cooking shrimp like a chef in no time. From selecting your shrimp to cleaning and cooking, we’re sharing everything you need to know to help you prepare fantastic shrimp meals.

 

Species of Shrimp

There are over two thousand shrimp species that have already been discovered to date, although not all of these may have culinary use. That said, the Gulf States alone produce roughly two hundred and forty million tons of shrimp annually for consumption. The average American eats approximately four pounds of shrimp yearly, making it by far the most popular seafood choice.

One thing to note before cooking shrimp is the generalization of shrimp. If you’re searching for a specific species of shrimp or prawn, you may be fortunate enough to locate it by name. However, you will find most shrimp species sell by a general category, such as white shrimp, gulf shrimp, or prawns. For this purpose, we’ll examine the distinctions between the most common groups you will find when cooking shrimp.

 

Types of Shrimp

Red Shrimp

Our red shrimp is cold water, wild-caught shrimp from the Southern Atlantic Ocean's waters in Argentina. When you select our divine red shrimp's home delivery, their shells will be split and veins removed for your convenience. Red shrimp may be harder to find in your area and have a reputation of being a sought-after delicacy. Don’t worry – we have your hard-to-find red shrimp ready for delivery.

Red shrimp live roughly a half-mile deep in the water, making them more challenging to catch yet worth every effort. Red shrimp have an exquisite sweet, buttery flavor and are more comparable to lobster or scallop. These tasty treasures are pink before you even begin to cook them. Some describe red shrimp as naturally salty in flavor, rich, and meaty, while most agree on grilling or sauteing when selecting a method for cooking shrimp of this species.  

Since red shrimp are already pink, you must keep a watchful eye on them when preparing. Cooking shrimp generally takes less time than other seafood, but the already pink coloring of red shrimp makes it more challenging to determine when ready. Watch for your red shrimp to turn opaque and curl up slightly. You will notice that cooking shrimp of this species will take a bit less time than others, so prepare them over low heat.

 

Sushi Sweet Shrimp

Ama-Ebi, or sushi sweet shrimp, is a cold water, northern Canadian Pacific shrimp. Sushi sweet shrimp, or spot prawns, get their name from their characteristic sweet taste.  Its most common use is raw, over sushi rice. Sushi sweet shrimp is the only shrimp species best eaten when raw since cooking sushi sweet shrimp takes away from its incredibly sweet natural flavor.  

And here’s a little fun fact for you – sushi sweet shrimp are males during the first stage of life, then turn into a female. However, sushi sweet shrimp are usually caught as young males in the prime of their sweetness. While this means they are still relatively small, it also accounts for their serving sizes, typically consisting of two sushi sweet shrimps over sushi rice.

While sushi sweet shrimp are not an ideal cooking shrimp, there is one exception. In Japanese cuisine, sushi sweet shrimp, in their female form, are a delicacy while bearing eggs. The eggs of the Ama-Ebi are rich in flavor and add to the dish.

 

White Shrimp

White shrimp are our most popular home delivery, farm-raised shrimp, and a favorite of ours. White shrimp have a mild flavor, firm meat, and are easy to clean. Their texture and flavoring make them perfect when cooking shrimp in a stir fry or serving them as a chilled cocktail shrimp.

White shrimp may grow to nearly eight inches in length.  The white shrimp’s firm texture makes it an ideal cooking shrimp, as it can withstand any cooking method you choose. The three main varieties of the white shrimp are the Chinese White, Gulf White, and Pacific White shrimp. They are typically light gray on their bodies with slight green coloration on their tail and a yellow band on part of their abdomen.

 

Rock Shrimp

The name rock shrimp comes from their hard shells. In the past, rock shrimp was generally a “throwaway catch” until the invention of a specialized machine during the late 1960s. This machine was able to peel off the hard shells of rock shrimp just before their sale.

Rock shrimp have a firm texture and incredibly sweet flavor, most similar to spiny lobster. The flavor of rock shrimp attracts many seafood lovers and makes them a more affordable protein alternative to expensive lobster varieties.

 

Tiger Shrimp

Tiger shrimp are native to Asian and African continent waters and make a tasty option for cooking shrimp dishes.  Tiger shrimp are easy to identify by their distinct tiger stripes on the body.  If you’re cooking shrimp for the first time, take note that many novices prefer to use tiger shrimp, as their firm texture and mild flavor are ideal. It also helps that tiger shrimp can grow the jumbo size of twelve inches long! The larger tiger shrimp are perfect for steaming and grilling methods of cooking shrimp.

 

Why Clean Your Own Shrimp

You can undoubtedly purchase shrimp that has been peeled and deveined for you. While that is quite convenient, peeling and deveining shrimp yourself will not only save you money but may taste better too. Unpeeled shrimp tend to be less prone to freezer burn and lock in flavor longer.

 

How to Clean Shrimp

Cleaning your shrimp correctly is an essential first step to cooking shrimp perfectly every time. While it may take you a few tries, we guarantee you'll get the hang of it and be cleaning your shrimp like a pro. Follow these guidelines:

 

Defrosting Your Shrimp

It’s essential to defrost thoroughly before cooking shrimp. The best way to defrost them is by adding the shrimp to a bowl of cold water. This process minimizes the risk of damage to the shrimp as they thaw, yielding better flavor and texture. 

 

Peeling Your Shrimp

If you purchase shrimp with shells on, hold the shrimp with their legs facing up. 
Grab ahold of their legs with your fingers, then pull them towards you. This method allows you to peel the bottom part of the shrimp shell. 

 

Next, repeat this maneuver with the top part of the shell towards the tail.
To remove the tail, fan it out first, then pinch it between your thumb and forefinger. This will gently squeeze the tail meat out, enabling you to pull the shrimp out from its tail in a swift motion with your other hand. 

 

Deveining Your Shrimp

There are two ways you can devein your shrimp. The most common method is to slice a slit down the shrimp's back, exposing the vein for easy removal. One drawback of this method is the large opening it tends to make in your shrimp. This causes them to lose shape and may dry them out a bit.

 

Alternatively, devein your shrimp with a toothpick. 

After a little practice, it’s a much faster process than the slicing method. It also leaves the shape of your shrimp intact. Here’s how to accomplish it:

  1. Hold the shrimp, so the backside is facing you with its tail on top.
  2. Insert a toothpick approximately two-thirds of the way up the shrimp, just to the right of its center. 
  3. Gently pry the tip of the toothpick towards the center of the shrimp. Catch the vein that runs down the middle with the tip of your toothpick.
  4. Gently pull the vein up and out of the shrimp by the tip of a toothpick. Use your fingers to pull the vein out in its entirety.
  5. Rinse the shrimp off under cold running water and repeat the process.

 

Brining Your Shrimp

Brining shrimp is a common trick used in Chinese cooking. It gives the shrimp a firm texture that “snaps” when you bite into it.  Brining before cooking shrimp is a simple process.  It also offers the advantage of raising your shrimp's pH, so it’s easier to brown and get the most flavor out of them when cooking shrimp. Here’s how:

  1. Add 2 cups of cold water and a 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda to a medium bowl. 
  2. Stir the mixture and dissolve the baking soda thoroughly.
  3. Add in your shrimp and fully submerge them under the mixture for up to thirty minutes.
  4. Drain and rinse.

 

Favorite Methods of Cooking Shrimp

Of all the cooking methods, we certainly have our favorite recommendations. What’s critical to remember is there is a fine line between perfect shrimp and overdone shrimp. Whichever method you choose for cooking shrimp, keep a watchful eye, and you'll have raving reviews every time.

 

Shrimp Sauté

Shrimp sauté is a classic and requires little preparation aside from which vegetables to include in your dish. Both healthy and flavorful, shrimp sauté is easy to throw together in a pinch. Since shrimp cook so quickly, start with your vegetables that require a longer cooking time.  Utilize your skillet on low heat and cook for three to four minutes to prevent overcooking of your shrimp sauté.

For incredible shrimp sauté, we have a few tips to ensure a perfect dish. Since your shrimp's texture is critical with shrimp sauté, we highly recommend using the brining method first. You’ll also want to make sure your shrimp are very close in size to ensure evenly cooked shrimp sauté. Once you notice that beautiful pearly and bright pink coloring, your shrimp sauté is ready to serve.

 

Grilled Shrimp

Grilled shrimp, particularly colossal prawns, are a meal you’ll never forget. Nothing quite compares to the flavors of shrimp off the grill. Grilled shrimp is one of the easiest cooking methods you can try, as long as you keep your eyes on them. Overly grilled shrimp become rubbery and lose their delicious flavor.

Large grilled shrimp are easier to handle, give you a few extra minutes of a cooking window, and work well on a skewer or in foil packets. Not to mention, grilled shrimp cleanup is quite simple too. We highly recommend grilled shrimp with the shell left on for optimal flavor.

Pre-heat your grill, add your favorite seasonings and a touch of butter or oil. The slick coating will prevent your shrimp from sticking to the grill. When your grilled shrimp or prawns begin to show their pearly color and begin to release a milky juice, they are ready to serve.  

 

Roasted Shrimp

Roasted shrimp is much quicker and easier to prepare than your typical roasted meal. Roasted shrimp are easy to prepare, cook quickly, and lock in incredible flavor. It’s as simple as oiling a baking sheet and lining it with your choice of peeled shrimp. To ensure evenly roasted shrimp, spread them out in a single layer.  Add a dash of your favorite shrimp seasonings and roast at 400 degrees for five to seven minutes. Roasted shrimp is a quick meal to make and pair well with various side dishes for seafood. It’s also a simple way to prepare a feast in little time.   

 

Breaded Shrimp

Is there anyone who doesn’t love breaded shrimp? When breaded shrimp is crisped to perfection, there are few meals we prefer. Breaded shrimp offer a crispy, golden outer layer to tender, juicy shrimp and are enjoyable alone or with cocktail sauce. We love breaded shrimp made with a simple mixture of water, cornstarch, and eggs dipped into a mixture of garlic breadcrumbs.

One of our best tips for breaded shrimp is to gently shake off excess breadcrumbs and then dip into the wet mixture and breadcrumbs a second time. Carefully fry a few shrimp at a time in hot oil until they reach a golden brown, then drain and pat off excess oil.

 

Baked Shrimp

If you’re short on time or prefer to focus on your side dishes, baked shrimp is the way to go. Baked shrimp offer an almost fool-proof way to cook shrimp, as they are less likely to overcook. Toss your shrimp into melted garlic butter or your favorite marinade and pop them in the oven. Baked shrimp allows you to cook slowly and seal in juices. You can prepare your baked shrimp in foil packets, a lined pan, or a baking dish. The choices are endless and make life easy when you have other dishes to prepare.  

 

We’re sure you’re eager to prepare your next shrimp meal. Take advantage of our convenient online ordering and front door delivery services for superior quality shrimp and seafood today.