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Here's your shrimp - you finish the prep

I have been griping for years about being served a shrimp cocktail in a restaurant and having the shrimp come with tails on. I am armed with a cocktail fork, the shrimp; are usually already a bit into the sauce, and somehow I've got to get those tails off before proceeding.

Our son is a cook and he doesn't seem to find anything wrong with that. Am I alone in that opinion?

Then maybe we can move on to Paella, Cioppino, and Bouillabaisse with the shells in.

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  1. What's wrong with the tails? They make a great 'handle' and some of us (me for one) like to eat the tails too!

    3 Replies
    1. re: bnemes3343

      Has anyone actually tried to eat shrimp cocktail with tail-less shrimp? Those buggers can be slick! I prefer the handle-aspect of the tail, although I'm with bnemes here: the tail is edible! When Asians leave the shell on, it's because the shell is meant to be eaten.

      1. re: JungMann

        I don't think that it's true that, "when Asians leave the shell on, it's because the shell is meant to be eaten." Shells are often left on because it improves the flavor but when it is time to eat the shrimp the shell comes off.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          It depends on the dish, but yes, the shell can be eaten as in Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Also, sweet shrimp at a sushi bar, they take the head and shell and deep fry for you....yum!

    2. I LOVE shrimp. Sometimes I see them with tails off, but most of the time the tails are on. No matter. I don't use the fish fork, I use my fingers, grabbing the shrimp by the tail, plunging into the sauce then into my mouth. Ah..... Heaven. Especially if the sauce has a good bit of horseradish. Ever try "Peel and Eat Shrimp?"

      For dishes like pasta with shrimp sauce, or Bouillabaisse , my knife does its duty on the tails and shells then my fork does its duty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        We used to call it "Shrimp A-Peel" (I'm just reporting - don't blame me!). Sure I've been to those, in jeans and with my elbows on the table etc.

        But when wearing a suit, at a restaurant with actual glassware and a tablecloth, I don't feel comfortable grabbing the food and finishing the prep. Looking at the replies, though, I guess my opinion is not unique, but in the minority.

        1. re: Gualtier Malde

          Now GM, there's a way of eating shrimp with your fingers that is sybaritically epicurean. A delicate touch when picking up the tail, little finger flexed just so, the gentle schmoushing of shrimp into sauce.... then the moment when your eyes behold the tasty morsel about to be transfered to mouth. Finally the slow ingestion of delicious flavors culminating in the deglutition of the dainty morsel.

          Who needs a fork I ask you.....

      2. If the shrimp are "dangling" like a lemon on a water glass then jfood likes the tails on as a handle. If they are "resting" horizontally on the plate awaiting jfood's knife and fork then he likes them tail-less.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Once again I agree with jfood.
          There's nothing wrong with peeling the shells off a shrimp provided it's essentially naked. I don't want some gooey sauce all over me. jfood should've included that a bucket of peel n eat or frogmore stew still can have shells on but are horizontal.
          If it's in a dish, I don't want to have to fish (pardon the pun) it out and perform surgery on it. Just stab, lift and eat.


          1. Proceed according To Gio. When you get to the tail, give it a gentle bite on the shell (just enough to hear a little crunch) and the rest of the meat will slide right out. If it doesn't, it means that the shrimp weren't very fresh when cooked.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SonyBob

              A bite and a pinch between the fingers will usually release the meat from the shell

              1. re: scubadoo97

                And sometimes a slight twist as you pinch. Shells or tails on, shrimp that are steamed are fine by me, I can gracefully eat these with actual glasswear on the table. Lots of practice, I guess, I do like.

                I do find shrimps that are sauted or pan fried with shells on, very difficult to peel and to do so with any finesse, near impossible. And try as I might, I just can't eat the shell. T

            2. I'm with you, Gualtier. While it's not a great hardship to eat around them (pinch the tail, whatever..) I say let the kitchen finish the work. I used to be a chef, so I understand that there is a lot of cultural inertia involved - and peeling shrimp is a lot faster for the prep cooks without removing the tail. But still...

              1. Of course you leave the tails on.

                and if it is fried, with heads also...perfect!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cathy

                  Tails are the handle..........It's cool

                  1. re: Cathy

                    ahh, fried live prawn (head on) with salt and pepper. one of life's little pleasures.

                  2. I always take the shell off the tail with my fingers (yes, I know it isn't esthetically pleasing) and eat it too and when I cook shrimp at home, I take the shell off first, then cook the shrimp.

                    1. Well, having encountered many "messy" dishes with unpeeled shrimp I've come up with many ways of peeling them without using mt hands unless the utensils are chopsticks...at that point I just use my hands. Much easier, more flavorful

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ivywx

                        My pet peeve is when you order a salad with shrimp for an entree and the shrimp, OF COURSE, have the tail on. I want to cut them up and eat them in the salad so I have to get the dang shells off. Took G-son and his friend to Roadhouse Grill and asked the server if they'd take the shells off - they did! Surprise, surprise!

                      2. With shrimp cocktail Ilike the tails on. Usually it is something I eat with my hands, so I like the handle. Even if the cocktail is made with giant shrimp that I may eat with a knife and fork, I don't mind the tails, because once I have the knife and fork, it is not too hard to just cut that sucker off. However, when I cook shrimp, let's say in a pasta dish or something that I will put over rice, even if the recipe says to leave the tails on, I take 'em off before cooking. It is just easier to eat that way.

                        1. a shrimp cocktail or other such appetizer is one thing, but i hate fighting with my food. When a pasta or a salad comes with tail-on shrimp, you gotta dissect it before proceeding....and after a recent experience with a spinach salad with griled prawns that had entire shells on that i never was able to totally remove, even with my fingers with a lot of effort....definitly not so fun. A table mate told me that if the menu says prawns, be prepared to get something in their shells, if shrimp, no. Is this true? Either way, shouldn't the little buggers be easy to get out of the shell with a fork, or the hands. I didn't pay $15 for a four prawn salad, only to have to leave half the meat in the little buggers .

                          1. unless it's a very thick-shelled shrimp, i just eat the whole thing. head, tail, shell...yum!

                            i was taught when i was younger how to properly get the shell off with my fork and knife. it's really pretty easy, but even easier and more delicious to just eat it whole :-)

                            1. I never cut the tails off with my knife. There's usually a bit of shell with a bit of meat inside just above the tail. A gentle squeeze with the fingers while putting the shrimp in my mouth & the bit of shell with tail slips off easily - affording just a wee bit more shrimp for my enjoyment.

                              1. Count me as one who likes the tail on. To me a tail-less shrimp looks sloppy. I've never had a problem slipping it off with my knife or eating it.