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Aug 16, 2009 08:29 AM

Shrimp Tails

I totally understand why when shrimp is served cold, and meant to be eaten with your fingers, the tails are left on to use as a "handle".

I cannot understand why shrimp tails are always left on when served in a hot dish with sauce, so you have to awkwardly fumble to remove them with a knife and fork, and then find a clear spot on your dish to put them.

When I cook with shrimp at home, I always remove the tail, but why do restaurants always leave them on? Am I the only one annoyed by this?

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  1. Shrimp tails are left on for appearances in commercial cooking. The tails make the shrimp appear larger. In Asian Cooking, when shrimp is deep fired or pan fried, the tails are considered a crunchy treat to some.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      When I was quite young, my now deceased aunt said that the tails of shrimp fried in Chinese restaurants were both edible and delicious. Sixty years later I still enjoy them. The irony is that everyone in her family, including her children, deny she ever said anything of the sort and no one else eats the tails. Their loss.

      1. re: fourunder

        "The tails make the shrimp appear larger"

        There it is! If we have those who are un-happy about the tails being on it's not hard to imagine the same group complaining about the "small" shrimp if the tails were removed.

      2. There is a big machine that shells and deveins shrimp mechanically but is not capable of removing the tails. Many restaurants use shrimp that have been processed through this equipment by their suppliers and do not shell shrimp by hand in house.

          1. Id always heard that A) it increases the size of the shrimp visually which makes it a marketing point and B) it (along with the shell) maintains the juices and the taste better than if you cook it uninsulated by its natural covering.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Insidious Rex

              "it maintains the juices and the taste better than if you cook it uninsulated by its natural covering"

              That only applies if you leave the whole shell on when you cook shrimp not just the last joint and tail. Peel & eats are a good example of this or NO style BBQ shrimp. Those must make some folks come un-hinged!
              IIR shrimp lose approximately 25% of their size or appear 25% smaller when cooked with out the shell.

            2. ack! yes it annoys me. Especially when it's, as you say in a sauce, or in something like pasta.There's an art to peeling a shrimp/prawn and pulling out that tiny little bit in the tail. Looks nice; tastes nice. It just seems like laziness. When on occasion it has been removed, whoever has simply chopped the end off it.

              What makes me crazier is lopping the top off the strawberry instead of properly hulling it/them. Wrecks the aesthetic, doesn't get rid of the spongy hull - esp now that they're bred more for shipping than eating and that spongy core is bigger than ever. TV cooks are perpetuating both; now everyone thinks it's fine 'cuz they've seen it on tv. arghh

              1 Reply
              1. re: cinnamon girl

                i think it's fine for reasons that have nothing to do w/ tv or other chefs