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Why do people make a big deal about de-veining shrimp but not lobster?

  • j

Every single time I watch a cooking show where shrimp is being prepared, there's always an instructional point on de-veining it and sometimes an explanation of what the 'vein,' actually is, but I never see the same for lobster.

Lobsters have a much larger 'poop shute,' and are even easier to de-vein than shrimp but it's always ignored.

There's a flap that goes over the tail that is easy to pull away (a piece of meat I love and seperate mostly for that reason) which exposes the... 'butt-crack,' looking crevice of the tail with the great big poop-shute going all the way down the crack. Very easy to peel away intact.

I always de-vein mine and find it funny tv chefs are squeamish about shrimp 'veins,' but make no issue of chowing down on lobster poo.

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  1. In the professional kitchens I've worked in, you wouldn't ever leave the poo-tube in anything.
    I've not seen a cooking show discuss it with prawns or crayfish, or not, but I'd be pretty annoyed if my crayfish medallions came with a little black circle!

    1. I am from Nova Scotia, where we know our lobster! It seems to be standard procedure here to remove the vein when eating lobster. Besides, lifting off that little bit of meat is the only way to get the roe out to have all by itself :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: CanadaGirl

        Nova Scotian here as well ;)

        Good point about the roe. Anyway, I just found it weird that I get the 'the importance of de-veining shrimp,' lesson everytime I watch the food channel but have never seen it once for lobster. When I posted the thread I was watching an episode of 'you've gotta eat here,' with host showing his lobster roll to the camera with a piece of tail meat, poo tube and all, getting the money shot. *gag n spew*

        1. re: Jjjr

          That's nasty! I would return that sandwich so fast! You are right that it gets mentioned every time with shrimp and never lobster though.

          Yay NS :)

          1. re: CanadaGirl

            Thanks. At least someone here agrees

      2. I think it's because a lobster is big, and the vein is easy to see, easy to access, and easy to remove.

        With shrimp, you have LOTS of very small, occasionally hard-to-see veins that can be hard to get to without badly damaging the shrimp.

        There's definitely a technique to veining shrimp -- it's pretty basic with a lobster.

        10 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          There's definitely a technique to veining shrimp -- it's pretty basic with a lobster.
          ________________________________

          Bingo!

          1. re: ipsedixit

            AND I have never seen it done on food shows, instead they serve the tail straight-up, poop shute and all, or cut it up into pieces to be served in lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster mac n cheese and other lobster abominations.... poop shute and all.

            There's no question it's easy to remove, I pointed that out in my initial post. Why isn't it done when such emphasis is placed on doing it with shrimp is the question.

            1. re: Jjjr

              Because not that many actually cook whole lobster themselves?

              What do you think? Which food shows did you observe doing this? Could they have been using preprocessed tails?

              1. re: Stephanie Wong

                Yeah, can't say I can remember seeing a cooking show with any focus on whole lobster. Maybe in other parts of the world.

                Which reminds me: at what point does one devein a lobster? Generally shrimp are cleaned before cooking, although they are obviously long dead at that point.

                1. re: tommy

                  Vaguely recall Jacque Pepin/Julia Child either together or separately doing live lobster kill but that's it. There was concern about "PETA" type blowback.

                  1. re: tommy

                    depends on what you're making -- if you're just steaming lobster and serving it whole and in the shell, then the diner gets to devein it.

                    I guess the rule would be "whenever it comes out of the shell" -- I've only ever cooked lobster tail in the shell, even if I was going to use the meat for something else, so I devein it when I take it out of the shell.

                    Same with shrimp -- all along the Gulf Coast, you can order boiled shrimp by the pound -- and not one piece of that will have been deveined when it arrives at your table. They may even arrive with the heads still intact (lucky you - they taste better when you leave the heads on during cooking).

                    But for shrimp cocktail, scampi, etc., -- anywhere the shell has been removed -- you betcha it better already be deveined.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      So I'm pretty sure I eat a lot of shrimp and lobster poop. Can't say it has impacted my enjoyment of these foods over the years in various cusines. Shew.

                      1. re: tommy

                        farm-raised shrimp is fed with meal, so they tend to not have much in the way of a vein - sometimes you can see a pale yellow...something...but since they aren't foraging in the mud, they don't ingest...mud.

                        In wild shrimp from a particularly muddy area, it can be a little gritty from time to time -- but yeah, I don't think it's ever killed anyone. I've had a boiled shrimp or two where it was noticeable enough that I pulled it out, but more because it's unsightly and gritty than anything else.

                2. re: Jjjr

                  >>AND I have never seen it done on food shows, instead they serve the tail straight-up, poop chute and all, or cut it up into pieces to be served in lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster mac n cheese and other lobster abominations.... poop chute and all.<<

                  Nobody goes to the bathroom on TV. Not even lobsters.

            2. I always wondered why they call it a VEIN????

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChrisOC

                it's better than saying shit tube?

                1. re: Jjjr

                  C'mon, folks. These are little sea critters, not german shepherds.

              2. Back earlier days, as a young foodie neophyte,
                I figured that I had to buy a devein-ing knife.

                But real soon it struck me, that up in that vein,
                was nutrient value of pre-processed plankton.

                Sometimes the shrimp, as they scour the bottom,
                might pick up some sand, which our teeth feel as grit.

                Grit Happens.

                I'm no longer concerned about crustacean shit;
                and thus I no longer devein it.
                I celebrate their place that's so low on the food chain,
                and am really okay with wee sand with my plankton.

                2 Replies
                1. re: FoodFuser

                  Alright. Again, it was really more of a question of tv show ettiquette, not about how important or unimportant the practice is for either creature. That's more of a personal prefference and if you enjoy sand and partially digested matter in your food, that's your business.

                  It goes to the point of why do many tv personalities make a big deal about one but not the other? That's all I'm talking about, not how necessary either one is.

                  1. re: Jjjr

                    since none of the options suggested above seem to be what you want, why not email the personalities and/or the production companies?