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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

        1. 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?

          5 Replies
          1. re: mwerkharder

            are you not able to remove the tail with your spoon without touching it with your hands?

            1. re: orangewasabi

              No! There is no spoon that can remove that last segment.Not even something like a serrated grapefruit spoom

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I'd rather it be done thoroughly to begin with and not have to finish the job at table.

                2. re: Candy

                  I think it's all about spoon-edge placement. I too hate getting my fingers in my stew, but always remove the tail with my utensils.

            2. 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.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                Well, to be perfectly honest, unless I'm at a high-class establishment, I'll gnaw on my steak/lamb bones with gusto. Not very ladylike, but sometimes, those are the best little bits of meat.

                1. re: QueenB

                  Go for it QB and enjoy. But you will never get ever morsel unless your name is Lassie and the itsy bitsy little bit inside the last millimeter of the shell ain;t worth the effort. I have never eaten this part but more power to my brethren who do and glad they enjoy.

                  1. re: QueenB

                    Never be ashamed to gnaw at the bone!

                2. Regardless of its utility in battering, the final tail segment is the easiest to remove - you simply pull the body while squeezing the last segment.

                  1. I leave it on myself, if I leave anything on at all. Which I usually do only if I'm going to want to be able to eat them with my fingers. And then I like sucking the last little bit out of the shell. It's not nearly as good, but gives you a bit of a similar effect to sucking the juices out of the heads... If it's meant to be eaten with utensils, I take the tails completely off. But then I'd never put those little hat thingies (I forget the name) on rack of lamb bones, either. ;)

                    1. I'd never even thought twice about just eating the whole thing (except for on boiled shrimp) until I moved away from the Gulf Coast and encountered folks for whom it was an issue. I still just eat the whole thing; on grilled shrimp I'll usually even eat the whole shell if it's been left on. Good for the nails, and tasty.