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Do You Serve Shrimp With Tail Shells On?

KSlink Aug 18, 2012 12:36 PM

I can't stand this "accepted" method of serving shrimp, it just seems like a really rude thing to do--making the guests go digging and maneuvering around, or leaving a perfectly nice last bite of shrimp on their plate.

Any thoughts???

  1. Motosport Aug 24, 2012 08:48 AM

    Actually I love buying whole shrimp with heads and tails. They are much more flavorful when broiled/baked/stirfried and served whole.
    For shrimp cocktail I serve with the tail. Those in the know pinch the tail and it comes loose easily. It also makes for a nice "handle" when dipping in cocktail sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Motosport
      sunshine842 Aug 24, 2012 09:02 AM

      and in paella? Can't beat the look and flavor of whole shrimp.

      1. re: sunshine842
        kubasd Aug 24, 2012 09:02 AM


    2. RealMenJulienne Aug 22, 2012 07:09 AM

      Like BBQ ribs, boiled crawfish, or renaissance fair turkey legs, shrimp are meant to be consumed as messily as possible, in the impolite company of good friends. Make mine head-on, shell-on, stir-fried with chiles and ginger over white rice.

      1. v
        Veil26 Aug 21, 2012 04:57 PM

        Rarely, but I usually cook them with shells on for the flavor. If I serve tails-on for serving reasons (cold app), the doggies get all leftover tail bits. Actually, I even take the shells and make a weak stock out of them, pour it over the doggies' dinner, and then dry out the used shells in the toaster oven for crunchy treats for the doggies. (Seeing a pattern here?)

        1. p
          Phoebe Aug 19, 2012 09:28 AM

          I totally agree with you K Slink. Never have understood the concept behind it. Tail on shrimp doesn't make the dish any more appealing. Not all tails come off easily either. It doesn't always come down to the diner's technique on how to properly "pinch" the tail. It has a lot to do with it being properly cooked, and the type of shrimp used. Also, I don't think the percentage of people eating the shell is really that high. I don't like having to set it aside somewhere on my plate. However, I am in total agreement with preparing "fresh" head on shrimp at home and getting every last bit of juice from the head.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Phoebe
            LindyCindy Aug 19, 2012 11:38 AM

            Tails on. Love the flavor the shell imparts, but must agree that the tails have to come off for sauced preparations.

          2. l
            LikestoEatout Aug 19, 2012 04:48 AM

            I like eating the tails but if the shrimp are in a pasta dish, I remove them.

            1. m
              MarkG Aug 19, 2012 02:22 AM

              asians including my wife commonly cook and serve shrimp with the entire shell on. i said entire. and i dont mind eating the shell. dont even peel it off.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MarkG
                sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 02:56 AM

                I have to confess - I have no qualms at all about cooking them with the head on - I'm not even remotely squeamish about twisting the heads off fresh shrimp with my bare hands.

                I'll save the heads for broth (if I don't boil them head-on) and savor every tasty drop.

                But I find the texture of shell in my mouth to be incredibly unpleasant. (not even that it makes me sick -- akin to taking a bite of something and realizing that the waxed-paper wrapper is still attached. yuck.

                1. re: sunshine842
                  Crockett67 Aug 19, 2012 06:12 AM

                  When it's deep fried, the shells are much more edible.

                  1. re: Crockett67
                    sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 06:59 AM

                    Want mine? :D

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      Crockett67 Aug 19, 2012 08:39 AM

                      Only if there's still meat in it. lol! I don't want to be gnawing on some shells alone. lol!

                      1. re: Crockett67
                        sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 08:56 AM

                        of course, if it's deep-fried, I'm probably going to be allowed to eat it with me fingers...which means empty little shells is all you're getting! :D

                  2. re: sunshine842
                    FoodPopulist Aug 19, 2012 08:25 AM

                    Twisting off the heads and sucking them out is the best way to savor every tasty drop.

                2. t
                  tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 18, 2012 11:41 PM

                  Depending on the dish, it's either tail off, tail on, shell on but head removed, or whole. When I'm cooking really fresh shrimp, I cut the heads off to make sure they're dead before cooking them.

                  Personally, I prefer them whole, or if shelled, with the tail on.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                    KSlink Aug 19, 2012 12:20 AM

                    "Make sure they are dead"--LOVE THAT....

                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                      sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 12:37 AM

                      If you're just making boiled shrimp, leave the heads on -- the flavor is far better! I didn't believe it either til I had some extra shrimp and extra time -- it's definitely better with the heads.

                      And don't worry about the shrimp - if they're not dead when you dump them in the pot, they will be within seconds.

                      1. re: sunshine842
                        tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 22, 2012 05:52 PM

                        One of the dishes I make with really fresh shrimp is an Italian one where you stick a toothpick up the back of the shrimp, and broil them with breadcrumbs, olive oil and lots of black pepper. Shoving a toothpick up a squirming shrimp is a little too much for me. :-)

                    2. k
                      KSlink Aug 18, 2012 11:17 PM

                      See what I mean? I knew this would bring up some varying opinions.....some of us love it, some of us hate it.....obviously I don't need to explain which side of the fence I'm on.....but I thought it would be interesting to hear some other points of view...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KSlink
                        DeppityDawg Aug 19, 2012 05:47 AM

                        You might also be in interested in these existing threads on the exact same topic:

                        Shrimp Tails

                        Tail-on shrimp.

                        Tail-On Shrimp Protocol

                        Here's your shrimp - you finish the prep

                        Shrimp Tails; WHY do they Leave them ON ?!?!

                        Why do restaurants leave the tails on shrimp?

                      2. s
                        sr44 Aug 18, 2012 10:49 PM

                        You betcha!

                        1. EWSflash Aug 18, 2012 09:18 PM

                          I prize that last section out with my teeth and consider myself a winner,because that's the best part

                          1. Bacardi1 Aug 18, 2012 01:51 PM

                            Tails on when serving "Shrimp Cocktail".

                            Tails & shells (& heads) on when serving a steamed, boiled, roasted, grilled, or any other spiced "peel & eat" preparation.

                            Everything off, buck naked, shrimp for any sauced preparation that would normally be eaten with cutlery - Jambalaya, pasta dishes, Gumbo, stirfries, etc., etc.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Bacardi1
                              Crockett67 Aug 18, 2012 04:50 PM

                              That's what I do as well.

                              1. re: Bacardi1
                                kubasd Aug 18, 2012 07:10 PM


                                1. re: Bacardi1
                                  Terrie H. Aug 19, 2012 12:54 PM

                                  My thoughts exactly.

                                  1. re: Bacardi1
                                    huiray Aug 19, 2012 12:57 PM

                                    What about eating with chopsticks?

                                    1. re: huiray
                                      sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 01:18 PM

                                      even better -- if you eat with chopsticks, you're guaranteed to be able to nibble the little section out of the tail!

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        huiray Aug 19, 2012 01:39 PM


                                      2. re: huiray
                                        Stephanie Wong Aug 24, 2012 08:25 AM

                                        Absolutely the easiest

                                        1. re: Stephanie Wong
                                          huiray Aug 24, 2012 08:40 AM


                                    2. e
                                      escondido123 Aug 18, 2012 01:46 PM

                                      Tails off. When shrimp are served with tails in say a pasta cream sauce, makes me annoyed.

                                      1. k
                                        kseiverd Aug 18, 2012 01:42 PM

                                        No tails when I cook shrimp. BUT it makes me a little crazy to see someone LEAVE that last bite IN the shell when shrimp is tail on!?! One of those things Dad taught us when we were kids.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: kseiverd
                                          coll Aug 18, 2012 01:45 PM

                                          When dining at home, that last bite belongs to the cats. And they know it, too!

                                          1. re: kseiverd
                                            EWSflash Aug 19, 2012 08:16 AM

                                            +1- that'tsthe sweetest little piece

                                          2. k
                                            kengk Aug 18, 2012 01:36 PM

                                            I prefer tail on for fried shrimp because I like to eat them. Cooked any other way I would rather the tail be removed.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kengk
                                              The Professor Aug 18, 2012 10:57 PM

                                              Same here. On fried shrimp, they have a very satisfying crunch.

                                            2. ipsedixit Aug 18, 2012 01:36 PM

                                              Boy, I wonder what your reaction would be with shell-on shrimps ...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                KSlink Aug 19, 2012 01:09 AM

                                                Thank you.......

                                              2. f
                                                FoodPopulist Aug 18, 2012 01:36 PM

                                                I'm sad that many people don't consider it acceptable to serve shrimp with the head on.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: FoodPopulist
                                                  GH1618 Aug 18, 2012 04:18 PM

                                                  The heads are served separately in sushi bars, with the tails, as ama ebi.

                                                  1. re: GH1618
                                                    Bacardi1 Aug 18, 2012 04:23 PM

                                                    I have to say that raw shrimp - both freshwater & saltwater - are something I've never been able to warm up to as sushi. The ones I've tried have been pristinely fresh, but there's something about the texture that just doesn't appeal to me.

                                                  2. re: FoodPopulist
                                                    sunshine842 Aug 18, 2012 04:33 PM

                                                    I'm with you -- fresh Gulf shrimp, boiled with the heads on, refrigerated, and eaten in the company of good friends and rum drinks.

                                                    Don't wanna deal with the shells? You're not invited.

                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist
                                                      mike0989 Aug 24, 2012 09:04 AM

                                                      If they are fresh and alive, yes I serve the head. The problem is when they are dead. there is an enzyme in the head that starts changing the texture of the flesh to mush after they die. This is why the head is usually removed after they a caught.

                                                      the only side note I can add to this is serving the head itself. If I'm frying it, like at a sushi bar. I remove the the two armour plates that are on the side of the head. Otherwise, it's all edible.

                                                    2. g
                                                      GH1618 Aug 18, 2012 12:58 PM

                                                      Evidently, your guests don't know how to eat shrimp. One gently pinches the tail where it surrounds the last morsel of meat, while gripping the exposed meat with the teeth and pulling gently. The whole thing pops out intact. No "digging" or "maneuvering."

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: GH1618
                                                        KSlink Aug 18, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                        I do not serve shrimp with the tails on--ever!

                                                        1. re: KSlink
                                                          GH1618 Aug 18, 2012 01:33 PM

                                                          I believe you already made that clear.

                                                          1. re: KSlink
                                                            huiray Aug 19, 2012 05:09 AM

                                                            Make sure you NEVER eat a Chinese dish with shrimp EVER AGAIN.

                                                            Your personal preference is your personal preference - it is not "RUDE", it is just that you seem to be incompetent with handling shrimp-with-tails.

                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                              sunshine842 Aug 19, 2012 05:31 AM

                                                              It's completely possible to eat shrimp with tails with a fork and knife...without making a mess or breaking a sweat.

                                                              I've yet to perfect getting that last little bite out of the tail itself without using my fingers...but then if I'm using a fork and knife I'm probably also eating somewhere that the risk of ruining whatever I'm wearing is pretty high.

                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                KSlink Aug 19, 2012 11:23 AM

                                                                And just where does my post indicate that I am incompetent in handling tail on shrimp?

                                                                1. re: KSlink
                                                                  huiray Aug 19, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                  Sorry, I meant your guests.

                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                    KSlink Aug 19, 2012 12:46 PM

                                                                    Actually, I was thinking of restaurant customers as guests, that's how I like to think of them--it helps in maintaining a positive mind set under grueling conditions sometimes! :)

                                                            2. re: GH1618
                                                              dmjordan Aug 18, 2012 10:46 PM

                                                              If it's in a stir-fry or pasta there's a lot of "maneuvering" with your knife and fork.

                                                            3. coll Aug 18, 2012 12:57 PM

                                                              Tails if appetizers/fingerfood like shrimp cocktail, but never tails if they are incorporated into a dish. I have read here that many people actually enjoy eating the tails.....

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                sunshine842 Aug 18, 2012 04:30 PM


                                                                1. re: coll
                                                                  Janet from Richmond Aug 19, 2012 05:34 AM


                                                                  1. re: coll
                                                                    tamagoji Aug 24, 2012 06:39 AM

                                                                    Lol, re: Eating the tail... for years, I've seen my husband do this. I tried a few weeks ago, liked it!

                                                                    1. re: tamagoji
                                                                      Bacardi1 Aug 24, 2012 07:35 AM

                                                                      Yes, I frequently eat shell-on shrimp tails myself sometimes. It depends on how tender they are, as the texture can vary.

                                                                  2. Veggo Aug 18, 2012 12:51 PM

                                                                    No tails in my house. Tales, but no tails.

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