Peeling Shrimp Made Fast

posted Apr 29, 2011, 10:53 AM by Kim Janik
Do you ever see the timings in my recipes and think, "How does she do it so fast?!?"  Well, over the years I have developed a number of time saving tips and tricks.  Today, I would like to talk about shrimp.  Here are some of my best tips for peeling shrimp fast enough to fit a recipe into 30 minutes.

  1. Organize your workspace!
    • It may seem obvious, but I find that organizing my work area speeds the process immensely. 
    • I divide the work area into 3 portions:
      • unpeeled shrimp (on my cutting board with a small knife kept handy)
      • peeled shrimp (on a plate and ready to use)
      • shrimp shells (thrown onto the empty shrimp wrapper for easy cleanup afterwards).
  2. Avoid frozen shrimp.
    • Invariably, something will go wrong with frozen fish and mess up your timing. 
    • The two most common mistakes I make are:
      • not remembering to pull the shrimp out of the freezer (adding defrost time to a recipe)
      • not allowing enough time for the shrimp to defrost in the refrigerator.  Peeling half frozen shrimp is not fun or fast.
  3. Buy the largest shrimp your budget allows.
    • Shrimp are usually sold by count per pound (i.e. how many shrimp you should get in a pound)
    • On average, small shrimp have 51-60 shrimp per pound while jumbo shrimp have 21-25 per pound
    • Buying jumbo shrimp instead of small shrimp means there's half as many shrimp you have to peel.
  4. When possible, buy shrimp labeled "easy peel". 
    • These shrimp usually have the back already split open and the mud vein is often removed, saving you valuable minutes.
    • To peel these shrimp quickly, pick one up in your left hand, pinch the shrimp by the legs and pull the entire shell down and off in one fluid motion.  With your right hand, grasp the shrimp and place it on a plate and toss the shell into the shell pile with your left.
  5. You don't have to throw away the shells
    • Shrimp stock is a flavorful addition to your cooking arsenal. 
    • If you don't have time to make stock right away, you can save the shells in the freezer and make stock later