August 27, 2009

Basics: Working with Shrimp (Jennie-style)

Posted in Basic Techniques tagged at 6:34 pm by jenniec00ks

This is by no means the only way to work with shrimp, but it’s just how I do it to keep things as inexpensive and simple as possible.

Shrimp Facts:

1. The U.S. has standardized the packaging of shrimp.  You will always see a “shrimp count” on the package, and sometimes a relative name to go with it (“large, small, jumbo”).  The “shrimp count” is the approximate number it would take that size of shrimp to weigh a pound.  For example, (some) “Extra Jumbo” shrimp are labeled “16/20” and it takes 16-20 of thses shrimps to comprise a pound.

2. Typically, the smaller the shrimp, the smaller the price.  Unfortunately, the greater repetitions of peeling you must endure.

3. The more processing that has been done on the shrimp, the more expensive it is.  Processing ranges from: Raw head-on, raw head-less, raw deveined shell-on, raw deveined and peeled, cooked tail-on, cooked peeled.

4.  Raw, whole, fresh shrimp have the most flavor.

5. Shrimp have a black string-like thingie down the back – it’s a digestive track.  It does not HAVE to be removed, but usually is because it’s gritty in texture and aesthetically unappealing.

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Shrimp Rules, Jennie-style:

1. Raw 31/35 or 31/40 ez-peel shrimp (usually correspond to about “Large”) are the most cost-efficient for the amount of work needed to be done.  “Ez-peel” shrimp are raw and sliced down the back to make them easier to peel and usually the vein is removed.

2. If the shrimp in the case looks good & inexpensive and you’re going to use it in the next few hours, go ahead and get it.  But I always, always, keep a FROZEN 1 or 2 pound bag of 31/35 ez-peel shrimp around.  In Texas & Atlanta, I try to keep the cost to no more than $5.50 per pound.

3. To thaw shrimp, soak them in COLD water for 5 minutes, then peel/wash them under running cold water (the running water makes it easier.)

4. Unless you can throw out the shells somewhere far away immediately, pour some boiling water over them and tie them up in a plastic bag until you can throw them out.  An alternative for the extra savvy, you can freeze them raw and wait until you have enough to make shrimp stock.

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