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Shrimp Tails

I was out with a friend last night, and we split a grilled shrimp appetizer. Like most people, she ate most of each individual shrimp but left the tip of the tail on her plate. I, meanwhile, at the whole thing -- tail and all.

She saw me eating a tail and said, "You do that too? I like eating the tails, but I don't do it in front of other people because it grosses them out. In fact, I had a boyfriend once who said part of the reason he broke up with me was because I ate the shrimp tails."

I said, "Well it certainly doesn't bother me!" So she then started eating the tails on her plate. We agreed that the tails are delicious -- crunchy and full of flavor (sort of like chicken wing tips, which buffalo wing recipes always say to discard -- pfeh!).

All of which got me thinking: Do other chowhounds out there enjoy shrimp tails? If so, have you found that other (non-houndy) people grossed out by it? Heck, are any of YOU grossed out by it?

-- Paul

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  1. I have never seen anyone eat a shrimp tail, but now I am going to try it. I would be more fascinated than grossed out if a dining companion did it.

    1. Never heard about this until a couple of week ago. I will try outside eyeshot of Mrs Jfood as when i told her she thought it was gross.

      1. When I order salt & pepper shrimp at a good chinise resterant I eat the majority of the shell, but not the head

        1 Reply
        1. re: chazzer

          I eat both the head and the tail when I get the sweet shrimp (tempura fried) at my local.
          The head is the best part, the waiters always laugh when I ask them if they would bring me JUST heads. They said hardly anyone eats the heads.
          Don't be frightened, try it!
          Come on, you are a chowhound, after all, aren't you????!

        2. I always eat the tails. My dinner companions are almost always grossed out.

          These are usually the same people who are grossed out by a whole fish on my plate--but this time it's the head, not the tail, that's the grosser-outer. Once I actually had to put a paper napkin over the fish head so one sissy wouldn't have to look at it. Good grief, the hullabaloo when I ate the cheeks...

          1. It seems to me that shrimp tails are kind of sharp and after chomping on could have a lot of sharp points that might slice your intestines as they go through??? I dont know.

            6 Replies
            1. re: malibumike

              Yeah, not to be gross, but wouldn't it hurt coming out too?! (Really not trying to be juvenile, just curious!)

              1. re: Katie Nell

                Malibumike and Katie Nell, that's what's stopped me too.

                1. re: thegolferbitch

                  never had a problem with that after eating the tails.

              2. re: malibumike

                The shell, tails, whatever are no match for your digestive system. Eat 'em if you like 'em and don't worry. If you ever get crsipy salt-and-pepper shrimp in a Chinese restaurant, you may make the wait staff laugh if you try to peel them -- as I did the first time I ever had them.
                . . . jim strain in san diego.

                1. re: Jim Strain

                  I tried to peel my first soft shelled crab. This was many years ago. The Spanish waitstaff were very kind and hardly snickered at all.

                  1. re: platypus

                    And I broke a tooth because I assumed the crab I'd been given was a soft-shelled crab.

              3. I'll eat them on occassion, especially if they're wrapped in something fried.

                A friend of mine would always eat them, which didn't bother me. What did bother me, however, was that she would eat the shrimp, tail and all, frozen right out of the freezer.

                1. Most Asians I have seen in restaurants eat the heads, tails and shells. So I tried it many years ago and I do too. Usually in fried recipes like tempura and salt and pepper shrimp. The shrimp are easier to eat when they are one of the softer shell varieties, also if they are cooked at high heat which makes the shells crispier and easy to chew. The heads, tails, shells are full of flavor and the little blob of fat at the base of the brain is very, very tasty.

                  1. When I get shell-on shrimp at a Chinese restaurant, I eat the whole thing. Head shell everything... since most of the flavor stays in the shell. I usually leave the sharp bits at the end of the tail, though.

                    But here's an amusing piece about one whole shrimp product I wouldn't want to eat:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Brian S

                      I eat tails (and whole fish!), but that commercial is just wrong on so mant levels...

                    2. If it's fried shrimp, I always eat the tail.

                      1. I eat most of the tail when I get the fried shrimp at Top Cat. I remember reading something about shrimp tails having some health benefit.

                        1. My mother always ate shrimp tails (her own, and the discarded ones of the plate of her three children) and we always thought it was weird, however, I now eat them all the time. Especially in marinated and sauces, its nice and crunchy and has all the flavor!

                          1. I always eat then although at home the big dog thinks they are the canine's domain. I was out to lunch the other day and another diner was putting these big super crispy tails on her bread plate as a discard. I almost asked if I could take them (for the dog -cough cough) but did not know her that well.

                            1. I eat shrimp tails depending on how they're prepared.

                              I'm not grossed out by much. Who's grossed out by it? Who cares! =)

                              1. It's never occurred to me to eat them. I'll have to give it a try.

                                1. I can't eat the tails, what would I make stock from?

                                  Guess I could eat them when I am out and just save the ones from home.

                                  1. I've been doing this since I was a kid. I especially love the tails from deep fried shrimp. My daughter is allergic to shrimp so I don't get them that often but whenever I'm out with my dad he automatically gives me his shrimp tails.

                                    1. Never eaten a shrimp tail, but deep fried shrimp is no different from eating a soft shelled crab. And everyone has weird eating habits, so don't feel like you're odd.


                                      1. "Never eaten a shrimp tail, but deep fried shrimp is no different from eating a soft shelled crab."...gurgling stomach.

                                        If you truly believe that, then you've probably never eaten a soft shelled crab. Or else you've eaten soft shelled crab, but have never eaten deep fried shrimp.

                                        I'd rather have one soft shelled crab than a hundred deep fried shrimp.

                                        1. Shrimp tails are not only delicious, but a really good source of calcium!

                                          1. If you're eating shrimp from a common platter (say, chilled shrimp on a buffet table or a family-style Chinese dish) and you eat the tails, nobody knows how many shrimp you've scarfed....

                                            1. I usually eat the tail only on fried shrimp, but not on boiled or otherwise prepared. For those who worry about digestive issues -- they're not ground glass!!

                                              Regarding the heads, when served sweet shrimp sushi (ama-ebi), where the deep-fried heads accompany the raw body/tail, I always take a big bite of the head section (closest to the body), but I don't eat the whole thing (legs, eyes, etc.). I assume they are served on the plate MEANT to be eaten.

                                              1. Sure do! Its like a bonus!

                                                1. This may be slightly{?) off-topic but some of us may not think by much. I have two middle age friends who didn't know each until last year. I went to Sox games with each of them separately and watched in amazement as each emptied a bag of unshelled peanuts into a 16 oz. beer and proceeded to chew, drink and swallow all the contents in their entirety. Well, they did leave the cups intact. Please tell me it's an anomaly or that I just attract strange friends.

                                                  BTW, is there a gastronomic reason kitchens leave just the tail tips on or is it labor intensiveness driven? I honestly don't know.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Harp00n

                                                    Maybe it's a Sox subculture to eat peanuts like that?

                                                  2. I am a chef, a hound and I do not eat shells, tails (puppy dog or otherwise). I plain do not like the texture. I also hate to get a bone in my fish and a shell in my eggs. I do not think this makes me any less a chef or a hound. To assume one is not a "hound" because one does not eat what you eat, only proves that someone is a snob about their pedigree. :)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Quine

                                                      Thanks Q. You should post this on the thread about food snob or food lover. Nicely put.