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Brining Shrimp before cooking?

I saw something recently about brining shrimp, for a few minutes, before cooking, properly rinsing first, of course, but I can't find the method. Or maybe it's simpl and I'm looking for more than what's necessary....Does anyone have some experience with this?



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  1. when i read the title, i thought, won't that cure the little buggers? and then i thought, why, shrimp are briny already! hmmm, alka is a little confused here! you can marinate, but "brining" is not something i would recommend. even if marinating, don't do it too long or they will be mushy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alkapal

      It does seem kind of redundant! Usually brining makes things juicier but shrimp don't really need the help, IMHO. However - this link has instructions:

    2. Brining is a fantastic thing to do if you're going to dry cook the shrimp. It's a very commomly used technique for shrimp.

      Brine it just like you'd brine poultry, only do it for much less time.

      1/2 cup kosher salt dissolved in 4 cups of cold water. Maybe add a little sugar to heighten the savory flavor. Soak the shrimp for 20 minutes.

      Rinse if you want to but IMO that's not really necessary.


      6 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        That's the way I do it. Brining gives that "pop in the mouth" feel. Does wonders for farmed shrimp that don't have great texture. 20-30 min max for brining shrimp. Don't over do the salt. I often do half and half salt/sugar and do rinse well before cooking.

        1. re: scubadoo97

          interesting technique. i shall give it a try!
          when i grew up in florida, the shrimp were very fresh gulf shrimp. they didn't need help. those were the days....

          1. re: alkapal

            Gulf shrimp are still around, just not as plentiful in the local supermarkets and twice the price but still worth buying over farm raised.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              thanks scuba, i know you know your stuff!

              1. re: scubadoo97

                I totally agree. Luckily a market near me carries gulf shrimp from the USA at a reasonable price. They taste very different than the asian shrimp. Sweeter and tastier.

          2. re: C. Hamster

            Perfect, Hamster, thanks. I'm usually the first with my finger on the Google button, but I missed it there.

            Thanks again

          3. Actually I do brine shrimp, but only as a remedy when I get a batch that turns out to be mushy (I don't know why, but sometimes it happens).

            To restore the firm texture or at least to help with it, I brine the shrimp for some 15 minutes, in water that is roughly as salty as seawater. Then rinse, marinate/cook as usual, and the "bite" in the flesh magically comes back.

            1. I like Alton Browns method of cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail, with brined shrimp:


              1. Brine them (briefly) with the shells on and then toss them with melted butter, worchestershire, cayenne, garlic and smoked paprika and roast them hot and fast! Wear an old shirt and sit outside with someone you're very comfortable looking foolish in front of and enjoy!

                1. Actually this is a GREAT way to BBQ shrimp. If you leave the srimp in the brine in the refrigerator over night it works even better. Cook with the shell on to keep the shrimp moist. I have included the link for the recipe we use. - It's VERY GOOD and everyone askes me for the recipe.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SpiceandOils

                    That's a pretty stiff brine to leave overnight. I guess having the shrimp in the shells reduces it's absorption.

                    1. re: SpiceandOils

                      Yikes! Overnight? I would never do that. They'd get too mushy.

                    2. brining shrimp makes the texture really pop.

                      i can't say i always do it, but whenever i do, i think the texture of the shrimp is way better.

                      i can't recall the exact amounts , but i used sat sugar and water - half an hour if peeled, an hour if in the shell

                      1. another example of mom knows best! whenever doing a stir-fry or other dry-cooking method (not a curry for instance); just leave the shrimp (this would only apply to uncooked shrimp of course) in some lightly salted water for a bit; yes, shrimp are usually brining their whole lives but if you get freshwater shrimp or maybe farmed shrimp (well, that probably has all kinds of additives in the water anyway) then, they'll be lacking it. its not a crazy high salt content and it definitely freshens up the shrimp, in particular if you are defrosting frozen uncooked shrimp. this might be a stretch but salt may also have some cleansing properties as well. I don't rinse it afterwards though; I just devein, dry, and throw right into the pan.

                        1. I have been doing this all my adult life. I learned it in the early '60s when we used to buy shrimp off the boat at the docks. We would take them home at once and what we did not eat we would freeze in a cardboard milk cartons in sea water. Defrost them 6 months later and they tasted as fresh as the day we got them! I soon figured out with today's farmed shrimp that brining was important. I use kosher or sea salt in water for about 20 minutes or so before I make ANY shrimp dish--grilled, boiled (with Louisiana Crawfish boil--SPICY, so be careful!), deep or pan fried, stir fried--whatever method you use--brining works very well. Now, if you are getting fresh Gulf shrimp right off the boat, brining is probably unnecessary if you cook them up right away.

                          1. If it's salt you want just buy Trader Joe's frozen shrimp. Otherwise you might want to watch all that sodium. It does eventually lead to high blood pressure and that is not a good thing.
                            Shrimp really don't need tenderizing.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: spm

                              salt probably does NOT lead to high blood pressure, just if you have high blood pressure it will aggravate it.

                              1. re: spm

                                "all that sodium"?

                                How much extra salt do you suppose would end up in a dish with brined shrimp, as opposed to a dish that is salted via a different process.

                                sodium doesn't lead to high blood pressure in all people. to say it "does" is probably not accurate. "can", perhaps.

                                1. re: spm

                                  trader joe's frozen seafood is so nasty!

                                  the brining process is not about adding sodium for flavor, and of course you drain off the water before using the shrimp. the amount of sodium that enters the shrimp tissues by osmosis will make a negligible difference in your final intake but, it's enough to improve the perkiness of, in particular, frozen shrimp that has been defrosted or, a not-so-nice batch of shrimp.

                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                    it even improves the texture of fresh shrimp.

                                    also 99% of the shrimp 99% of us have ever eaten were flash frozen on the boat when caught.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      haha, ya that's for sure. ah well.

                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                        One thing that can enhance a shrimp brine is to add minced garlic and ginger,
                                        lemon zest, a little cayenne pepper, or whatever your favorite shrimp spices are
                                        to the brine at the start.
                                        The salt will draw the spices into the shrimp making them all the tastier.

                                    2. re: bigjeff

                                      @BigJeff, Bingo: I like to peel, devein then brine the little buggers for 20min or so. While the shrimp are brining in the fridge, I like to take the shells and tails and simmer them for about the same time-frame as the brining process, and use the shell stock as a component in the cooking process of the shrimp. Whether quickly poaching in water, or add the stock to the cooking liquid for rice if you are accompanying the shrimp, with rice.
                                      Too much flavor in the shells to just toss them away, in my opinion.

                                    3. re: spm

                                      Today many shrimp are mushy due to framing techniques. Brining give them that snap and crunch. It would be great if we could all get local wild shrimp. I live near the Gulf of Mexico and getting good shrimp would be easy you would think but it's not. I have stopped buying farmed shrimp from Indonesia and will pay extra for fresh Gulf shrimp when I can get them. I found brining the farmed shrimp really improved the texture. As far as added sodium, yes it will add some but then you don't need to salt them while cooking which I would have done had they not been brined.

                                      The HBP/sodium connection is still undetermined so one should ask their personal physician about their salt needs or restrictions.