How to Peel and Devein Shrimp
Using these illustrated step-by-step instructions, help your shrimp out of their shells and into a recipe for a scrumptious summer sauté
By Gail Monaghan in the Wall Street Journal
Shrimp accounts for almost 25% of seafood sold in the U.S.—and with good reason. A delicious, low-calorie protein, the versatile crustacean is also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Though people in other parts of the world frequently consume shrimp shells along with the meat, here shrimp aren't usually considered edible until they're peeled and deveined. The method shown below is the quickest means of doing both.
The dark "vein" running down the shrimp's back can be eaten, mind you, but most of us nevertheless balk at the idea of consuming the animal's digestive tract. Luckily, removal is easy with a small knife or with a shrimp deveiner, available at most kitchen-supply stores.
Try using your peeled shrimp in a simple sauté. Serve it with rice or with garlic toast to sop up the juices, or turn it into a pasta sauce by adding stock and extra olive oil during cooking. This dish is equally good hot, warm or at room temperature.
If you can, purchase the product still-frozen—shrimp is almost always shipped that way, though it is sometimes thawed for display in the fishmonger's case—and defrost it yourself in cold water or in the fridge. Never speed up the process with warm water or a microwave.
And don't throw away those shells once you're done peeling. Simmered with water for 30 minutes and then strained out, they make a tasty stock that will serve as a base for both soups and sauces.
SAUTÉED SHRIMP WITH CHORIZO, BABY SPINACH AND MIXED HERBS
Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 6
Make marinade: In a food processor, process 3 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced, 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley sprigs, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, zest of 1 large lemon, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil until well combined but not puréed. Pour into a large bowl.
Marinate shrimp: Add 3 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, to marinade and toss to coat. Cover and set aside at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours at room temperature, or refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Combine ½ cup chopped tarragon and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pan should be large enough to fit shrimp in one layer. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 5 ounces Spanish chorizo, very thinly sliced, to pan and fry until crisp on both sides, 5-8 minutes total. Transfer chorizo to paper towels to drain.
Add marinated shrimp to hot pan and cook until pink on one side, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, flip and cook until shrimp are barely cooked through, 2-4 minutes more. Add cooked chorizo and 8 cups baby spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved herb-oil mixture. Adjust seasoning if needed.
1. Pull off the shrimp's legs (and the head too, if it is attached).
2. Grip shell at head end and gently pull away from body in one piece.
3. Use a paring knife to slice about ¼-inch deep along the outer edge of the shrimp's back, down the center.
4. Use the tip of the knife to remove the dark vein that runs along the center of the back and discard.