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Peeling Shrimp - the strangest thing happened

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Okay before I get to the interesting part - let me just say I've been peeling shrimp for a VERY long time. I also have been eating lobster for a very long time and know where all the "hidden" bits of meat are in a lobster. So I while I "knew" this meat existed in a shrimp this has never happened before.

I bought a pound and a half of raw, wild caught, white shrimp from Mexico (15-20 count I think it was) from a fish monger that while not my favorite in town is certainly relatively reputable. I took them home to peel them and the strangest thing happened with virtually ALL of them.

When I peeled the shell off - ALL the meat came out of the "tail tips" as well. For you anatomists, all the meat from the telson AND the urpods. For the rest of us - I mean all the meat that hides in the very tippy tip tail flaps at the end of the tail.

It was the strangest thing and this has never happened to me before. I have on occasion while sitting around eating lobster gone in and gotten that meat before but NEVER from a little old shrimp and NEVER have I had it come out while peeling.

I have included a picture. See the "black" looking flaps on the end of the tail - those came out of all the shrimp while peeling them.

Who knows when? why? this could have happened. The shrimp tasted great, no strange smell, all seemed normal but . . . . strange.

 
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  1. So I while I "knew" this meat existed in a shrimp this has never happened before.

    Okay before I get to the interesting part - let me just say I've been peeling shrimp for a VERY long time.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    What I find strange is that it took you this prolonged period of time to finally learn how to peel shrimp properly

    : )

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      haha - fair enough - so the meat from telson AND urpods come out when you peel all your shrimp? Maybe I just finally got good at it - as they say - practice practice practice

      1. re: thimes

        What I do is take a metal skewer and insert it into the bottom of the shrimp where the head has been removed, straighten out the shrimp and push the skewer to just before the tail to break, or split the shell. I then turn it upside down and use my two thumbs to partially peel and separate the shell from the body, but not from the tail. Now, with the shrimp still inverted upside down with the belly up, I take the tail fins between my thumb and forefinger and give it a slight pinch to crack the shell. Last I grab the tail fins at the very end and give it a sideways shake and tug, then a pull and the meat comes out intact like your recent find. This method works almost every time.

        1. re: thimes

          "haha - fair enough - so the meat from telson AND urpods come out when you peel all your shrimp?"

          Well, yeah. It does.

      2. Normal.

        1. What a lucky find! You got your money's worth.

          1. Yeah - I hear you all. It wasn't that I thought it was "abnormal" or that something was wrong with them. It was just that it never happened before on all 25-30 shrimp. And while I'll try fourunder's peeling technique the amount of meat in the tail tip is so non-existent that I can't imagine doing anything that may take longer to peel shrimp just to try and get that meat out.

            I guess I was wondering if maybe the shrimp were:

            better flash frozen (they weren't fresh)
            thawed more slowly
            thawed more completely
            just about to molt so more meat
            at a different point in their reproductive cycle (again would lead to more meat possibly)

            It just happened so easily and on all of them.

            3 Replies
            1. re: thimes

              .........the amount of meat in the tail tip is so non-existent that I can't imagine doing anything that may take longer to peel shrimp just to try and get that meat out.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              Here in lies the difference between the professional chef and the home chef. The professional chef knows it's there and s/he wants to make sure the product is presented in it's glory. The tail tip makes the shrimp look look better....especially when butterflied. It's one reason many leave(lazy being the other) the last section of shell and tail on the shrimp... I don't mind shrimp shells being left on, but some find it in poor taste.

              1. re: fourunder

                yes I think having the last section of shell left on does make for a better presentation in some dishes and I hate it on in others. (I hate having to - as Veggo points out below - fish my shrimp out of a dish to fishing peeling them). This dish I did not want the last segment of shell left on, so I pulled it off.

                I don't think (when having the shell off) that anyone would even notice the little meat flaps that these shrimp had left on their ends - after cooking they aren't even noticeable.

              2. re: thimes

                I bet the reason it never happened before with 25-30s is because the larger ones are sturdier specimens so they can be handled a little more roughly and still get this last bit of meat out. With smaller shrimp, it's quite easy to rip them off when you peel the shrimp. Years and years ago, I used to peel 5-10 lbs of 25-30s every day, and had to keep the tail meat intact. Once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy.

              3. Is this meat especially good? What am I missing?

                2 Replies
                1. re: monavano

                  It's not, and visually, it's more appealing to leave that part of the shell on.

                  1. re: mcf

                    I think undesirable shell mouthfeel or the extra work to dig the shrimp out of a dish and finish the peeling job trumps visual appeal of the tail shell, at least for me.

                2. Not to rain on your parade, but this is common! I find that you need to hold quite firmly to the body when pulling off the shell in order for the tip to remain intact. So I guess you could say there's a little bit of technique involved, but it's very easy to do.

                  1. I typically don't have a problem removing the tail with the tail meat intact. I was told some time ago if you snap off the telson this will help to release the tail from the meat. Don't do it all the time and I'm not sure it makes that big of a difference.

                    1. Thimes,

                      Maybe I am lucky, but most of the time the shrimp tails are intact when I peeled the shrimps.

                      "It was just that it never happened before on all 25-30 shrimp"

                      Oh I see what you mean. Ok, ok, now I get it. It is rare then.

                      1. I always peel my shrimp this way, I never leave the tail shell on. Drives me nuts when I'm serving expensive u-8-10 shrimp and everyone leave the tail meat uneaten.