About shelling shrimp
There was a small discussion about leaving the last segment of the shell on shrimp last week. I reported that I find the practice pretty bad and is one reason I rarely order shrimp in restaurants. Picked up the French Laundry cookbook today and Keller does what I have always done. Shell right down to the little fan of tail after that last segment. I feel vindicated. I still feel this lousy practice of leaving on the last segment has come about because of machine shelling.
Well, I know that when I worked in a restaurant shelling 40-50 lbs of shrimp that little tail thing really helped when it was time for flour, eggwash and bread. Also purists will argue that a little bit of shell adds flavor to sauces. Shrimp looks bigger and obviously the tail-on bit adds to the "fresh seafood" aesthetic. This is all just rote stuff I was programmed to recite by my taskmaster overlord chef. It may all be hogwash.
I agree with taking the whole damned shell OFF! I always do it, mostly because I always want that last morsel of "meat" and don't want my guests to struggle to get it either. Just my opinion! I must have missed that original thread!
Yes, that last bit of shell drives me crazy, especially if the shrimp is in a very saucy dish. Cutting it off with a knife and fork always wastes that final little morsel. I can't eat the shell, unless the shrimp is fried. And I certainly don't want to stick my fingers in the sauce in an attempt to break the shell away from the meat.
I always completely remove all shell when I cook shrimp at home.
Thanks, all! I was the original poster, and everyone seemed to think I was a minority for not liking the tail on! It is messy and lazy on behalf of the chef, to me. I don't like reaching into my "stew" with my hands to eat, ya know? And the shell is inedible unless it's fried, anyway.
As to the fresh seafood aesthetic, how many times have you gotten "fake" shrimp when going to a reliable restaurant?
Why should shrimp be treated differently than others? Do we worry about the last bit of chicken on the bone, or the last bits of steak or lamb on the bone?
I do not like any part of the shell presented in the meal.
Worst experience was gambas in Madrid. An entire plate of these things to peel. Spent the better part of fifteen minutes peeling 20+ gambas before I could start eating. What a pain.