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Jun 13, 2007 11:53 AM

Cold Boiled Shrimp - what are your preferences?

I intend to serve cold boiled shrimp w/ two dipping sauces at a party for 80 soon. I'm wondering what people prefer. I myself like to peel the shrimp myself. I think having the shell on makes the shrimp tastier and lets me know it was more likely to be fresh. On the other hand, my husband is prissy and hates to peel his own shrimp. I suppose I could peel down to the tail as a compromise. What say you?

I will decide on deveining once I see the shrimp. Any suggestions for how to devein w/out shucking?

What "count" of shrimp do think makes the nicest presentation, while still tasting good? I often find that the really big ones have less flavor (in addition to making me broke).


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  1. I don't eny you. Enough shrimp for 80 is a LOT of peeling. OTOH, picturing 80 people standing around peeling their own invites one heck of a mess around the house. I'd probably cheat and buy frozen bulk cooked, peeled and cleaned shrimp for this may people, unless you're doing it all outside. Then I'd buy fresh and leave the shell on and cook it myself. You can devein through the shell just as if it were shelled. Just have a sharp knife.

    1. Unless you want to find shrimp peels all over your house for the next millennium, I would peel them before service! Yes, it will take a while to get them all done, but in the end you will thank yourself for having done so. You could always hire a prep cook to come in for a couple of hours and give you a hand.

      Like I said, if you don't, you are certainly doomed to find those peels everywhere, just like the cicadas in Chicago this summer. and it won't be pretty.

      1. I would definitely peel them for this kind of an event. Do you have a deveiner/peeler? It makes life much easier and costs just a dollar or two.

        1. Please don't succumb to pre-cooked, frozen shrimp! Buy the freshest 26-30 shrimp you can find--and ask if they're pond raised or wild-caught American shrimp. Pick another appetizer if all you can get is pond-raised, imported frozen junk. 26-30s will allow people to enjoy the taste, rather than simply marveling over the size. I like this size for BBQ shrimp and cocktails and fried shrimp; they're big enough without being huge and chewy the way bigger ones can be. I paid $5.00 a pound for fresh 21-25s (white shrimp) last Saturday, as a benchmark.

          I agree that head & shell on are the way to go for optimum taste, but I wouldn't want 80 people with shrimpy fingers all over the inside of my house. Boil intact and peel before the event...peel down to the last tail segment for a nice presentation.

          So now on to sauces: homemade horseradish mayo is good, as is a wasabi or chioptle mayo. And remoulade is a must, IMHO. I like hoisin or peanut sauce, too.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            OK, the vote is strongly in favor of pre-peeled. Would you still feel the same way if I say this thing is not being held at my house? I have rented a grand old home that's currently a Woman's Club. Shrimp shells in the draperies are their problem.

            Celeste, we are sisters in shrimp. There will be no bag of frozen, pond raised in Thailand shrimp. I have a quote of 7.99 for 26-30 and 9.99 for 21-25 fresh shrimp from the Gulf. I tried for SC coastal shrimp but my guy couldn't get them. I'll be doing a test pound just to make sure his quality hasn't slipped lately.

            I'm leaning toward classic cocktail sauce + ginger-mayo. (I already did a sauce thread) Maybe I should do a third ...something sweet like the hoisin or peanut.

            OK, question I forgot: how many pounds for 80 people. There will also be beef tenderloin and rolls, ham biscuits, canapes, cheese, hot dip, fruit, veggie, cookie, cake. (this is a party for mostly elderly folks....I've restrained myself from serving anything too "weird")

            1. re: danna

              Chowsters peel their own shrimp but many people find that yuccky. I'g guess most senior citizens would feel that way.

              100% -- peel them.

              Where do you live that you can get fresh shrimp, lucky you!

              1. re: danna

                Shrimp math is easy, since they're graded in number per pound. I'd go with at least 15 pounds (at 25 per pound, this is ~4.6 shrimp per person, or $120 for the 26-30s ). If you want lots of shrimp, round up a couple of pounds. I routinely do shrimp & remoulade dipping sauce for big parties and I've never ever ever had a leftover shrimp. Now is the time to break out the huge crystal or sterling punchbowl and mound those shrimp high.

                Even though you don't have to clean the catering hall's drapes, I'd still boil in the shell, then peel down to the last segment, esp if your crowd is elderly. 15 pounds of shrimp seems like a lot, but it won't take more than an hour and a half to peel, unless you're really, really slow. 2 lbs takes me less than 10 minutes if I'm not deveining as I go.

                And my shrimping neighbors thank you for your patronage. Sorry your SC shrimp aren't available, but you know that Louisiana seafood isn't so bad ;)

              2. re: Hungry Celeste

                I'm with Celeste - serve remoulade. It's the best with shrimp. And it's not so spicy or weird that it will shock older folks. And on the frozen issue - scubadoo is right. All shrimp is flash frozen at sea. It spoils too fast.

                1. re: lupaglupa

                  No, ALL shrimp is most certainly NOT flash-frozen at sea. Quite a bit of US wild-caught shrimp is fished in near-shore waters along the Gulf Coast, and it is landed fresh not long after it is caught. Furthermore, another big chunk of wild-caught shrimp are from in-shore estuaries, fished from smallish boats that sell their catch every day or two. So you can find never-frozen shrimp, you just have to make an effort and be willing to pay for a quality product.

                  Here's a link to my local seafood market, Bayou Bounty, which ships nationwide: 16-20 shrimp are $7.95 a pound, plus shipping. Note the very specific language under the shrimp description regarding their never-frozen state. Support a small business, the Louisiana seafood industry, and say no to pond-raised, imported dreck. If you won't tolerate hormone-filled, feedlot beef, why buy antibiotic-filled, pond-raised imported shrimp?

              3. will your local fish monger peel, clean, and cook for you? if so, this is the way to go. if not, and you don't want to give over a full day to prepping the shrimp, precooked and frozen from a high quality purveyor can work.