The shrimp cocktail tray at a party is always the first one empty, and why? Because this shellfish star is just so good.
How to Choose Shrimp
Whether they’re pink, white, or brown, look for fresh shrimp that feel firm, smell fresh, and are free of dark spots. But since they’re almost always shipped frozen and defrosted before they hit the fish case in the market, save money and be assured of freshness by buying bagged frozen shrimp; for best results, look for IQF (individually quick-frozen) on the label. Shrimp are usually sold by count per pound, which varies but is generally: small, 41 to 50; medium, 26 to 30; large, 16 to 20. The most eco-conscious choice is farmed or wild-caught shrimp from the United States and Canada. Imported farmed shrimp are often crammed into pens, which breeds disease (which farmers then fight with large doses of antibiotics), and fisheries elsewhere have fewer safeguards in place to protect the environment. Supermarkets are required to label fresh and frozen fish with the country of origin and the method of production (wild or farmed), but this law doesn’t apply to fish markets and restaurants, so consumers must ask more questions in those places.
How to Store Shrimp
Fresh shrimp should be rinsed under cold running water, drained thoroughly, then tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Frozen shrimp keep their flavor well in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost shrimp, place them in a colander under cold running water or let them thaw overnight in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
How to Prepare Shrimp
To peel a shrimp, hold it in one hand. Slide the thumb of your other hand between the legs at the head end. Push your thumb under the shell and slide it around the body, separating the two. Leave the tail on for presentation, or pinch the section where the tail and body are joined and pull the tail away. To devein a shrimp, use a sharp paring knife to cut ¾ inch deep down the length of the shrimp’s back. Remove and discard the vein and run the shrimp under cold water.
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