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Mar 5, 2011 01:04 PM

Why Does the Bag of Costco Frozen Shrimp Say . . .


They say, "TO PROPERLY THAW: Place bag of shrimp overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and use in your favorite recipe."

The bag is 2 pounds. I practically never need 2 pounds of shrimp for one meal. I always thaw however much I need in heavily salted water and it's always just fine.

Any idea why the directive? In bold capital letters, no less.

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  1. I think thawing under cold running water "washes" out the flavor of the shrimp.

    Looking at a package of Costco "cooked" shrimp in my freezer the only two ingredients are shrimp and salt.

    9 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Interesting. I haven't noticed that, but the flavor thing sounds like the only possibility. Try moving a small number of the frozen shrimp to another bag and submerging it in cold water (held under with something). Hopefully you can dislodge a workable number number of shrimp without breaking any. That will take slightly longer to thaw, but shrimp seem to thaw rather quickly either way.

      1. re: Midlife

        There's salt as one of the ingredients for a reason and it might be for flavoring and maybe to help the shrimp retain some moisture.

        Shrimp (uncooked) that you buy has been previously frozen. I find that once I've cleaned that shrimp and "rinsed" it again in water it seems to lose some flavor.

        1. re: monku

          Not sure I was clear. My point was that thawing a smaller portion of the shrimp inside a smaller bag would not add too much thaw time and would preserve the flavor.

          1. re: monku

            "Shrimp (uncooked) that you buy has been previously frozen"

            Fresh, never frozen, shrimp, though the exception, are available. Granted, you are not going to find them in Costco or your local supermarket, but shrimps right off the boat do exist. If you ever have the opportunity to purchse some, do not hesitate. Like any other seafood, there is a noticable flavor difference.

            1. re: MGZ

              Yes, I shouldn't have made that generalization because you can buy "fresh" and "live" shrimp.
              But, the majority that is sold in stores has been "previously frozen" from who knows where.

              1. re: MGZ

                The shrimpers freeze shrimp on the boat. I've traded beer for shrimp when pulling up to a shrimp boats in the Gulf in the early morning. Shrimpers were heading back to unload their catch after a long haul at sea. All their catch is frozen on board since they spend days at sea

              2. re: monku

                After shrimps are cleaned they are quickly frozen one at a time in what is called IQF (Individual Quick Freeze). The liquid they are frozen in is cold brine. Brine is a salt and water mixture. As the shrimps emerge from their frozen bath on a conveyor belt, they quickly form an ice covering. This process inherently put salt on the shrimp.

                1. re: Bevric

                  Good. Next time you get a chance go to Pascagula, have a look at how thousands of pounds of shrimps, packed in ice, are de-headed, shell rolled off, devained and IQF in the factories by the docks. Perhaps no different from how it is done on the shrimp processing boats.

            2. re: monku

              Yeah, that's probably it. Even the packages of raw shrimp have salt in them. But since I'm thawing them in salted water, not only for flavor but for texture as well, perhaps I'm adding back whatever I'm washing out. At least, that's the way I'm going to choose to look at it.

            3. Flavor and texture isn't as good. But you can bang the bag on the counter to separate the shrimp, put the amount you want into a Ziploc bag and place that into a large bowl of cool water for a fast thaw. And don't buy the already cooked shrimp; it's always more flaccid than those you cook yourself from raw, IMO.

              4 Replies
              1. re: mcf

                Yes about the separate bag in water. Even better, I've supposed, is to put the bag in a full sink of water. I think the physics is such that the more the water mass, the greater its capacity to thaw the shrimp.

                I remember once lying on a water-bed in which the heater had failed some time before, so the water was about room temp. It quickly felt like death creeping over me, no lie--sapping body heat like nobody's business. A feeling I've never forgotten...

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  I put mine in a huge stainless mixing bowl on the counter so my sink is free. It's as big as some sinks. :-)

                  I once slept on an unheated water bed, decades ago. Never again.

                2. re: mcf

                  The Costco frozen "cooked" shrimp and "uncooked" shrimp are not frozen together in a block, they seem to be individually there's no need to break them apart.

                  If I'm serving shrimp cocktail, I just buy the "cooked" and their flavor and texture are fine.

                  1. re: monku

                    That's only partially true. While they're not in one giant block, there are often clumps of several joined together, or a few large clumps per bag. I don't take a sledge hammer to them but I've found that giving the bag a bang onto the counter separates them without tearing so that I can remove only the desired amount.

                3. Dunno, but honestly I just cook 'em from frozen most of the time. Unless I'm frying the shrimp I just take what I need from the bag frozen, put the rest back in the freezer, and cook 'em straight. Especially if I'm putting them in gumbo or some other "saucy" thing. Just add an extra minute or so to cooking time.

                  1. It alters the integrity of the shrimp texture. Shrimp will start to separate or shred if forced thawed using water.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I believe this is the reason for the warning. The smaller the shrimp, the more apparent this deterioration will be. Gently using very cold water will minimize the effect.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        We used to have to defrost large boxes of frozen shrimp at our restaurant. We would never force thaw with running water, just put the whole thing in a garbage can filled with water.

                    2. Frozen shrimp is usually made by what is called IQF (individual quick freeze) in a brine solution done at a very low temp. So it is possible to just reach into the bag and take out what you need for a meal. If some shrimps are loose and some are like a frozen block of shrimp then it is possible that bag got to room temp after it was IQF. Now have you ever taken a very cold ice cube from a freezer and run it under cold water or better yet under hot water. You will hear it crackle and you will see many cracks throughout the cube. Frozen shrimp does the same thing if allowed to unfreeze too fast. The shrimp cells explode and all the juices run out.The sudden unfreezing of the ice in shrimp cells is a violent action. As a result it breaks the cell walls of the shrimp allowing all the succulent juices to run out leaving just the cell wall which is basically trashy and tasteless. JoanN is right, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and it will taste like fresh caught. Perhaps a good example of what happens when meats are thaw too fast is a frozen piece of steak.If left out on a table on a warm day, A clear red liquid will accumulate. That liquid came from inside the meat cells. Whats left are the cell walls-trash. FYI. medical laboratories quickly unfreeze cells in a test tube to break the cell walls to release what is inside them.

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