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Deveining Shrimp 101 – 4 Important Things You Need To Know

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Deveining Shrimp was such a hard things to do before. I’m embarrassed to say that I used to avoid buying shell-on shrimp because I was afraid of having to peel and devein them. It felt so daunting, so dirty, and so laden with the possibility of horrible failure. I’m too fond of shrimp to eat it if it’s tainted with anything.

After that, I went to culinary school and was handed a pile of shrimp using shrimp deveiners and instructed to get to work. That day, I discovered that peeling and deveining shrimp isn’t quite as difficult as I had imagined. Here’s how to do it the right way, as taught to me.

Deveining Shrimp: Anatomy of a Shrimp

Shrimp are small water organisms that live on the ocean floor or near it. They feature a hard outer shell made up of segmented sections, a softer underside, a tail, and many small feathery legs. When you buy shrimp in the shop, the heads are usually already removed for you (and sometimes the legs, too).

You can have the person at the seafood counter remove the shells for you, but it’s just as easy to do it yourself, and you’ll have the shells to make stock with. The tails can be left on or removed once the shells have been removed. At a dinner party, leaving the tails on makes for a great presentation, but removing them makes them a little simpler to eat.  In case you are looking for best shrimp deveiner, we have a list you can check.

Deveining Shrimp: Two Easy Ways to Peel Shrimp

Peeling shrimp can be accomplished in two ways: by hand or with a pair of kitchen shears. Peeling shrimp by hand is a satisfyingly rough and primal experience. Grab a shrimp, peel off the legs, break the shell open with your thumbs along the underside (where the shell is softer), and pull off the shell. It’s a little more sophisticated to peel using shears. Simply cut through the shell at the top (where it’s hardest), crack it open, and pull off the shell with the kitchen shears.

I go over both ways in further detail below; try them both and see which one seems the most natural to you. I prefer to use kitchen shears since I find that the shell breaks off a bit easier, however it does cut into the shrimp a little more. Peeling shrimp by hand is a little more messy, but you’ll end up with a cleaner, more intact shrimp.

Deveining Shrimp: Do You Need to Remove the Vein?

The “vein” in a shrimp is actually its digestive tube, not a vein. It seems to be a thin thread loaded with dark grit that runs around the back of the shrimp just beneath the surface. The vein is sometimes highly visible, and other times it is barely visible. It all depends on the shrimp and what it was consuming at the time of capture.

If you eat a vein by accident, it isn’t dangerous, but it is unattractive and can add a grittiness to your delectable piece of shrimp. To get rid of it, make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp and then use the tip of your knife to draw out the vein. It may sound revolting and terrible at first, but once you’ve done it, you’ll be glad you did.

Deveining Shrimp: How to Do It

Using a paring knife, score the shrimp down its back: Run a paring knife along the back of the shrimp gently. You don’t have to cut all the way through; a modest cut will suffice.

Locate the vein: It will resemble a long, gritty string. It’s fine if you don’t detect a vein in every shrimp.

Draw the vein out with your paring knife: Using the tip of your paring knife, gently pull up the vein from near the top to the bottom. Because it is fairly elastic, it rarely breaks. If it breaks, simply pick it up and continue pulling.

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