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Why do restaurants leave the tails on shrimp?

  • b

Lately, I've been eating a lot of shrimp, mostly in Asian restaurants in San Francisco, and I've been wondering why do they leave the tails on? You can't eat the tails. I could understand if they just served the shrimp in its shell, but if they go to the trouble of shelling the shrimp, why not remove the tails, too? There must be a logical reason for this. What is it?

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  1. It makes the shrimplook nicer on the plate as well as making them look larger. and the shell does add some flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dave

      "...and the shell does add flavor."

      About 1/2 the time I don't peel 'em at all, eat the whole thing, shells, tail, everything. Works just fine, no residue gets caught, very flavorful!

    2. I would guess they leave them on because it makes a nice presentation. Also, you are incorrect--- you CAN eat the tails. They are crunchy and delicious.

      1. lots of people eat em & they do taste good. they also double as a good handle.

        1. In addition to other points made, I would offer that removing the tails when shelling shrimp is an extra and tedious part of the process. It take a bit of finesse to remove the tail shell without tearing off the end of the shrimp.

          2 Replies
          1. re: GG Mora

            Actually, there is a neat trick to that. On the tail you will notice a little pointy section on the top of the tail. If you remove that piece first, the tail will usually slide right out, clean as a whistle. This even works most of the time with cooked shrimp.

            1. re: GG Mora

              Having shelled and headed millions of shrimp, I'll have to disagree here - all it takes is an extra squeeze in the right place. Howeve, it does remove a good handle for eating hot, fried shrimp (which is why I think they leave the tails on). And BTW you CAN eat the tails if they are crisp enough.

            2. b
              Boris Carlitov

              I always eat the tails. The shell has maybe more flavor then the meat itself.

              Even better is when they've left the head on.

              Boris

              1 Reply
              1. re: Boris Carlitov

                If you ever order AMAEBI sushi, which is sweet raw shrimp, sushi, you get the shrimp heads and tails on the side usually deep fried. For me it is ironic that I order it FOR and BECAUSE of the deep fried heads and tails...the meat and the sushi is nice, but that crispy head and tail, YUM! I can eat it like it was potato chips.

              2. Another tail-eater here. There's a TON of flavor in the tails. What's particularly nice about learning to like eating tails is that I end up with a bonus of all the tails from my family members' portions, too.

                1. Many restaurants actually buy the shrimp peeled and deveined with tails on for handling. Cost effectiveness is what I would guess.....less work for the chef/cook.

                  1. Aside from all of the below items on how you can eat the tails, etc. (I do when they're fried, usually not otherwise), when they're in a sauce and you're at a nice restaurant and don't want to get messy but don't want to cut off the meat inside the tail:

                    Put your fork in the head end, and hold your knife down at the place just above the tail where you'd pinch it in a peel-and-eat situation, but not too hard or you'll cut through the shell. Pull with the fork. Eh voila, tailless shrimp, unamputated.

                    In general terms, I keep the raw shells in my freezer and when I have enough, I make a shrimp stock with sherry and chicken broth. It's just lovely. There is a lot of flavor there.