Here’s How to Ensure Perfectly Cooked and Prepared Shrimp Every Time for the Best Bite and Taste
It pays to watch the interactive, versatile, and easy-to-cook protein
Whether you’re in charge of the grill or the stove, perfectly cooked shrimp are as easy as seafood cookery gets. They’re truly a beginner- and wallet-friendly protein.
Plus, they’re a fantastic protein of choice: Convenience and portioning are practically built into them.
Responsible for feeding yourself or your family? You can scoop however many that you need from out of the freezer for a spontaneous and easy-to-prepare meal. Because they’re small and individual units, they’ll thankfully thaw in no time.
Speaking of the freezer, it’s worth noting that most shrimp are sold as frozen, and those that are at the seafood counter have simply been thawed. Quick to perish, they should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.
While it’s nice to not otherwise have to handle chunks of icy, frozen shrimp, opt for them this way as it’s cheaper — and safer.
To be certain, you cannot yet possibly determine how long those at the seafood counter have been sitting out for. And your guess is as good as that of another customer’s.
To get the best bang for your buck, look for shrimp with their shells intact as well — you’ll end up with better texture and more flavour.
Needless to say, quick to thaw and to prepare from frozen, shrimp are the way to go when time is a squeeze. Cooking the small crustacean can, however, come with its fair share of missteps — from bland to overcooked meals.
Worse: Undercooking shrimp — especially, non-sushi-grade — is a recipe for food poisoning. To that end, there’s undoubtedly more to forgive with an overcooked batch of rubbery, chewy, and dry shrimp.
Yet besides cooking the protein to perfection, it’s also a best practice to remove the digestive tracts of the shrimp in the first place.
Commonly referred to as the “vein” per its uncanny resemblance, it’s a culinary faux pas to leave the discharge in the shrimp — whether by honest negligence or sheer laziness.
Who knew there could be so much at stake with such a cute and innocent shrimp? It’s really not a big deal, especially when you can depend on the two following clues that’ll save you from over- and under-done shrimp.
Colour and Shape Are a Great Giveaway
Shrimp: They’re minute in size, and minutes are all that it takes for them to be cooked. And so, it’s important to keep a careful watch over them as they can all of a sudden turn tough and dry.
Whether they’re grilled, boiled, or pan-seared, seeing is believing when it comes to deciphering the doneness of your shrimp. And it’s your first point of reference before touch and temperature.
To confirm the cook on your shrimp, colour is, first and foremost, the key indicator, accompanied by an opaqueness.
In its raw form, shrimp appear, quite honestly, dull and grayish with a translucent finish — an aesthetic far cry from the beautiful orange, white, and pink once terrifically cooked.
You’ll be able to calculate your shrimp’s doneness just by eyeballing it — it’ll turn from translucent to opaque, punctuated by a beautiful, bright red tail.
To add to the cinematic experience, shrimp will also contract and curl into a “C” shape, which is what you’ll want to go for. But you’ll not want to admire it for too long — because it could very quickly go from a “C” to an “O” as a sign of an overcooked shrimp.
In general, once your shrimp turn opaque, they’re ready to be flipped to the other side, altogether taking just a few minutes per side. There’s no need to cook them for long — it’s not worth having tight and tough pieces.
The great advantage of their singular format and small size is that you can simply remove one to test for doneness. Otherwise, you can probe for temperature: The internal reading of cooked shrimp is 120F.
Besides watching for the signs of transformation — it really is a sight to behold — shrimp are actually terrific candidates for the air fryer, even though you won’t be able to look for these visual cues.