Buying, Storing and Deveining Shrimp

READY IN: 10mins
Recipe by quotFoodThe Way To

I thought this would be helpful for those who are not familiar with shrimp.

Top Review by Busters friend

Nice advice from both "food" & "greffete" - we also are blessed with lots of local ocean-caught & river-caught shrimp in the summer. We buy from small local fishmongers & from the side of the road - look at your fresh shrimp - no pink, orange or red colors, please! These will inevitably smell "fishy" of amines associated with decomposition. Look for dark browns, blues & greens in the shells of river-caught & lighter shades in ocean-caught. Smell them! Anything other than a fresh whiff of saltwater - pass 'em by! Take them home quick - in a cooler w/ice or in a bag of ice. Cook 'em soon - wait no more than a day, unless you want to use them as bait. You will see them "pink up" as they age, even though they have not been cooked - then comes the smell (remember with bait shrimp - even the fish prefer them fresh! LOL!)


  1. Buying Shrimp: Shrimp is a highly perishable item and should only be purchased frozen to insure freshness. Avoid buying peeled and de-veined shrimp because the shrimp can lose some of its flavor during the cleaning process. The most consistent shrimp in size, texture, and flavor are the gulf whites which come from Mexico and Ecuador. Most shrimp imported into the United States is farm-raised Ecuadorian. Shrimp are sized according to their count per lb. The best size range for value, quality, and ease of handling is probably the 26/30 range.
  2. Defrosting Shrimp: Shrimp should be defrosted in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Never thaw shrimp in a microwave. Any black spots on the shell of the shrimp indicates that spoilage has begun. A gritty residue on the shells indicates the product has been bleached to remove these signs of spoilage. If either condition is evident, return the shrimp to where it was purchased.
  3. Peeling Shrimp: Shrimp will retain more of its flavor if it is cooked in the shell. It is a good idea to leave the shell on if poaching or grilling shrimp. De-veining is optional but be aware this gritty, stringy vein can be very unappetizing. It is preferable to remove the vein, especially if the shrimp is poached and cooked for shrimp cocktail.
  4. Deveining: Before you begin to devein your shrimp, start by keeping them in a bowl of ice water. This will keep the shrimp fresh while you are working on the others.
  5. If you will be using shrimp that have already been shelled, the only thing you will need is a small, thin, sharp knife. A common paring knife will do. Start by holding the shrimp, backside up, and run your knife down the length of the shrimp. This will expose the vein. To remove the vein you can use your finger, or the tip of your knife to pull it out of the shrimp. You may also run the shrimp under a stream of cold water which, in some case, the vein will simply wash away. When finished, replace the shrimp into the ice water to keep it fresh until you are finished deveining and ready to cook.
  6. If you plan on cooking your shrimp with the shell still on, you can still devein them. In this case you will need a shrimp deveiner, a knife-like kitchen tool made specifically for deveining shrimp with their shells on. This can be purchased at any kitchen supply store.
  7. Start by holding the shrimp backside up, and place the deveiner under the tip of the shell. Gently slide the deveiner up the back of the shrimp, towards the tail. The deveiner has a serrated edge that the vein will adhere to, while cutting the shell with its sharp, upper edge.

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