Shrimp are a great go-to when you are looking to make a quick meal, whether it is an Asian stir fry, pasta sauce or basic sauté.
Unfortunately, like every food item, buying and preparing shrimp isn't as straightforward as it should be. Here are some tips:
• Shrimp will cook in just a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook them. To be safe, add shrimp last to a dish, when possible. Don’t forget about carryover cooking; shrimp cooked to 80 percent will usually finish cooking on their own.
• Purchase only wild shrimp; farmed, or “industrial-scale shrimp production, often with hefty doses of antibiotics and pesticides, creates a series of food safety concerns,” according to Food & Water Watch. Wild shrimp can be difficult to find, so make sure to buy them when you see them.
• Buy shrimp with their shells on. In addition to being cheaper than shelled, they should have more taste. While sitting on ice, shelled shrimp will soak up water, diluting their flavor.
• I do not devein. I’d rather spend my time peeling shells or making another part of the meal from scratch.
• Shrimp come in many different sizes, but names (small, extra jumbo, colossal, etc.) aren’t uniform. The industry’s way of labeling shrimp is by the number per pound. For example, 16-20’s (a very popular size) means that there are 16 to 20 of these shrimp in a pound.
• In the United States, the majority of shrimp are sold without heads. However, along with the tails and shells, the heads have great flavor.