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Nov 12, 2004 04:34 PM

Shrimp Tails; WHY do they Leave them ON ?!?!

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This has been a pet peeve of mine for a mighty long time....and it got to me again at lunch today.

I LOVE shrimp...but....

Why is it that when you order a shrimp dish at most restaurants, or even cook it yourself, the shrimp come with 9/10th of each one shelled and de-veined..but that last segment of shell...and THE TAIL is left on??


Weather the shrimp are sautéed, grilled, roasted, fried, or other....the Tail is always left on!

I don't get why? I though one of the marks of a well plated dish is that everything in the plate should be edible. Why do I have to pick up my shrimp with my fingers, bite and pull in order to separate the tail and get that last bit of meat?

Why aren't the tails removed prior to cooking or plating?

Curious and perplexed

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  1. When shrimp are grilled, the shell chars and adds an additional layer of flavor. To a certain extent this also happens with sauteeing and roasting.

    1. Mostly for visual appeal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Funwithfood

        I do not find it visually appealing.

      2. BBQ shrimp are famous in Louisiana and they are cooked with the shells fully intact head and all. Most "Cajuns" eat the entire shrimp including the shell so as not to waste the BBQ sauce which is really lemon juice, garlic et al.

        1. The shrimp are machine shelled and it is easier to leave that last joint on. Restaurants are not going to invest the man hours to remove that last bit. They all claim that it is an easy handle for the diner. That is hype, very few people eat shrimp with their fingers in a restaurant especially something saucy. I have been tempted to send shrimp dishes back to the kitchen and ask that the shrimp be fully peeled and ready to eat.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            I disagree with your assertion that the machines used for shelling shrimp necessitate leaving the tail shells on. If this were true, then it should also apply to "popcorn" shrimp, which are tiny and never have the tail shells left on.

            1. re: Candy

              And guaranteed if you did it would be done by some disgruntled kitchen staffer not the chef, and you would end up with a little more than you bargained for your in entree.

              1. re: Candy

                how sure are you of your facts? i rather doubt that better restaurants are buying pre-shelled shrimp. at least I hope not.

                1. re: Candy

                  For a couple of years, I was the poor SOB in the kitchen who had to shell between 5 & 10 lbs of shrimp every night (26-30 count), and I removed the last segment but left the tail intact. IIRC, it would never take me more than about 40 minutes or so, so at the minimum wage at the time, it was less than about three bucks' investment by my employers.

                2. Chefs always say it's for aesthetics (and yes, I do believe it looks prettier), but I also think it's to make diners think they're getting a bigger piece of shrimp.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    I make shrimp all the time, and personally, I find non deveined shrimp unappetizing...I take off the shell completely so I can devein the shrimp entirely, and butterfly. There is no waste this way, and I think it's kinda gross to see people suck the tails out the shell.......Alot of Thai restaurants take the shell off, and they use very large shrimp.

                    1. re: Janie

                      Except of course, chefs in restaurants in Thailand, where the tails are frequently left on, and often so is the entire shell and the head. In that case, many Thais enjoy eating prawn heads. And the shells can be quite edible as well.