Shrimp can make for a great meal, appetizer, or even a good side dish. Many enjoy consuming shrimp regularly and they are actually very good for you as well. There are many ways to prepare shrimp, but the one thing you want to make sure you never do is overcook the shrimp. You can grill them, sauté them, and prepare them in many other ways, but never over cook shrimp.
You now have the most important tip you can get when it comes to cooking shrimp. There are many other things you need to know about cooking and buying shrimp, however. Below you are going to find a few tips to help you purchase the right shrimp for you and you are also going to find some tips on how to cook them properly as well.
Tips for Buying Shrimp
1. The Tail Test
If you are purchasing shrimp that has been caught and cooked on board before delivered to the stores, then you can do a tail test to see how fresh it is. You will want to straighten the shrimp out under the light and see how large the gap is between the shell and the meat. The larger this gap is the worse the shrimp actually are because of either being cooked too long or held under refrigeration too long.
2. Avoid the Slime
Anytime shrimp feel slimy or sticky you want to avoid buying them. This is what happens when shrimp starts to go back and you can put your finders on the shell and move them forward and backward. Once you have done this if you have a gritty feeling between your fingers or you feel the slime or stickiness you want to put the shrimp down and walk away from it.
3. Fresh Factor
If you are trying to buy precooked shrimp you want to see a shell with a shiny clear glossy shell. This should have long feelers still intact and it should be resting on an ice bed within some type of refrigeration unit. With raw shrimp you are looking for the same type of shell with legs still intact as well. These should be displayed much in the same way. You don’t want to buy shrimp with legs that are turning black at all.
Tips for Cooking Shrimp
1. Do Not Over Cook Shrimp
This has already been mentioned, but it is worth mention about ten more times. It is the most important tip when it comes to cooking shrimp because when you over cook shrimp they will taste like bland rubber; It is actually better to undercook them a little bit and some eat them raw or nearly raw as sushi as well.
2. Thaw the Shrimp Properly
If you need to thaw your shrimp you really want to do this under refrigeration overnight, but if this is not an option you want to run cold water over the sharp to thaw them. Never set them out on your counter or table to be thawed. This is not good for the shrimp and can cause bacteria to grow within the meat. Also, once the shrimp are thawed you will never want to refreeze them. This makes them tough and can cause freezer burn as well.
3. Cook sooner rather than later
When you purchase fresh shrimp you should really cook them the same day you purchase them. This is one of the most perishable foods you can buy and if you wait too long they will go bad. Ask the store you purchase the shrimp from whether they were previously frozen or not. If they have been previously frozen, you will not want to refreeze them. When you don’t plan to cook shrimp the same day, just purchase them already frozen.
4. Always Clean Properly
Before you cook the shrimp you are going to want to clean and devein them completely. This will get rid of the parts of the shrimp that can cause a foul flavor and should not be consumed. You want to do this before you prepare your shrimp in any way you prefer. Deveining your shrimp is very important because this will get rid of the, for lack of a better word, poop trail.
When you broil shrimp you will want to season or marinate them before you do so. Then, depending on the size of the shrimp, you are going to want to broil them for about four to five minutes. This will help to ensure that you don’t overcook the shrimp and end up with rubbery shrimp. These shrimp can be cooked to be put on a salad or served in a different type of dish.
6. Pan Frying
For best results with pan frying use olive oil and season the shrimp ahead of time. If you like spicy foods you can use a Cajun seasoning to add nice flavor to the shrimp. To avoid overcooking the shrimp you are going to want to pull them out after about 3 to 4 minutes of cooking. You can bread the shrimp first if you want or you can just cook them without breading if you prefer.
7. Grilling Shrimp
Always use uncooked shrimp for grilling because frozen shrimp will tend to dry out on the grill. You will want to use the largest shrimp you can find because this will help to retain more of the smoky flavor from the grill itself. It is also recommended to use a charcoal grill and skewer the shrimp with vegetables. You can season them before you actually cook them as well, and then serve them over rice.
Have fun with the recipes you are using and don’t feel like you have to follow them 100%. You want to put your own flavor into the recipe and tweak them to fit what you are after. Just make sure you purchase good shrimp and don’t ever over cook them or you will be very disappointed with the way your dish turns out.