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lots and lots of shrimp, shrimp newbie!

I have the terrible burden of being overrun with wild shrimp. ;) My husband has gotten pretty good at catching them. I have about 7 lbs in the freezer and anticipate having more.

We don't normally eat shrimp due to its environmental impact, and I have almost never cooked it. Can I get a shrimp primer, if you will? I know you have to be careful not to overcook. I'm thinking I might want to buy a tool to help peel and devein? That sure is a pain. Is it worth trying recipes where you fry and eat the shell? (People do that, right?)

He froze them in freezer bags, but it looks like freezing in salted water would be better. I may take these ones out and throw them into containers of salted water unless you all advise me not to.

And how about some fave recipes? I am pretty severely lactose intolerant, but can eat goat cheese and butter. We also don't eat red meat or chicken. Other than that, we like and eat everything.

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  1. You can never go wrong with shrimp and garlic and butter and lemon. One of my favorites is an extra garlicky New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp with plenty of garlic. Mmm.

    1. Like, here is one question--how much difference does it really make to cook shell-on vs. shelled?

      2 Replies
      1. re: loraxc

        Personally, I don't love 'peel your own' type dishes. Plus, the shrimp shells are great for making a basic fish stock. You can use that to make a fish soup with the shrimp as the main component, or reduce the stock until it concentrates almost to a demi glace state, and use that as a flavoring in your scampi to intensify the shrimp flavor. For more recipes, you could watch Forrest Gump, which had a character who named dozens and dozens of shrimp dishes :)

        1. re: loraxc

          It depends on the dish. When we make bbq shrimp it's shells on as is tradition. Shrimp creole is of course shelled.

        2. You don't need a special tool to peel & devein, a small pair of sharp scissors does the job. Just remove the heads, I'm sure other chowhounds can tell you the best way to do this as I have never bought head-on shrimp. Then, cut the shell along the back with the scissors, stopping at the tail, being careful to not go too deep into the flesh, you just want to expose the vein. At this point you can pretty much pull or scrape out the vein easily. You can also peel them pretty easily now, or leave the shell and tail on. Cooking them in the shell protects the meat and keeps them more flavorful, personally, I like them much better that way. After they are cooked, the shell is easy to remove. However, if you are making them with a sauce, you might want to peel first, just so it's not so messy to eat, although I have no problem licking the sauce off and then peeling! As for the raw shells and heads, you can freeze those until you have enough to make a wonderful shrimp stock. For your frozen ones, hopefully other chowhounds will advise you, I have never had the luxury of just-caught shrimp. Enjoy, I envy you!

          6 Replies
          1. re: jacquelyncoffey

            the heads pinch right off and with a bit of batter and deep-fried are a yummy crunchy snack!

            1. re: jacquelyncoffey

              Is shrimp stock useful for things not made with shrimp?

              1. re: loraxc

                Use in any seafood dish that requires broth.

                Gumbo, risotto, cocktail and burgers are what come immediately to my mind.

              2. re: jacquelyncoffey

                Agreed, I use an extra (new, btw) pair of scissors from the nail grooming section of target, they work like a charm.
                And shrimp stock for risotto is divine!

                1. re: alliegator

                  Yeah, way easier than trying to do that with a knife. You're not pointing sharp things at your hand and fingers, and you won't accidentally go too deep and split them in half.

                2. farmed shrimp has a negative environmental impact in countries where the industry is poorly regulated. if your husband is catching wild shrimp, you should be thrilled! where do you live?

                  i never bother deveining. i do prefer cooking them out of the shell, mostly because they are easier to clean this way. you can cook them in water, stock, beer, wine or water/juice combo. add aromatics like some bay leaves, peppercorns a few cloves of garlic and be generous with salt. bring the liquid to a boil and add the shrimp. once it comes back up to a boil, cover the pan and remove from the heat. once pink, about 2-3 minutes later, they are cooked. you can saute in olive oil, coconut oil or butter. again, be generous with the salt.

                  i don't know why you need to freeze them in salted water? i would spread them on a sheet pan and freeze through, then bag. this way they're not clumped together and you can take out as many you'll need.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Yes, they're certainly wild. I live in FL--he's netting them. Farmed shrimp are pretty terrible everywhere by my understanding. Wild American shrimp are better, but there's still a major bycatch problem, so I prefer to avaoid them, too. This is hard, since I love them. So--I'm psyched!

                    I am reading that freezing in water prevents freezer burn. Of course, I don't know how long these puppies will stick around!--but we do hope to really stock the freezer. No deep freeze, more's the pity.

                    If they are pink, can I assume they are done? Is there much risk of UNDER cooking?

                    1. re: loraxc

                      nope, undercooked is perfectly safe. you can do them as ceviche too -- cooked by acid instead of heat.

                      1. re: loraxc

                        Boiled or steamed shrimp are delicious, hot or cold. With the bounty of shrimp that you have, figure out how long YOU like them cooked. I like mine cooked a little more than the "experts" say they should be.

                        Headed and peeled shrimp pan fry very quickly and easily. Just dust them with flour or cornmeal and pan fry in a little oil or butter.

                        Joyce Chen scissors are the best ever peeling de-veining tool.

                        Watch Forrest Gump for additional ideas.

                      1. Peel em, wrap with bacon, pin with a toothpick, Grill or panfry in butter and garlic. oui la la

                        1. Two of my favorites:

                          (I don't make the remoulade, flavorful on their own. Add plenty of celery leaves with the celery)

                          1. How big are the shrimp he's netting? Size makes a huge difference in how you prepare them.

                            The last Gulf shrimp I bought at our local seafood place had almost no veins. I deveined them. But, honestly, it doesn't bother me to just steam and eat them "as is".

                            When we get head-on shrimp from the boats at the coast, I freeze them in water. I've never salted it. Just plain water. But, I learned (the hard way) that ziplocks don't work. Those little shrimp legs and antennae poke holes in the bags. So, I do it in freezer containers. Sometimes I take the heads off before freezing and save those in a separate bag for making stock. When I make dishes with peeled shrimp, I throw the shells in the same bag. Once I get a gallon bag full, I make stock. (I also throw in shells from stone crab, fish bones, etc.)

                            One of my favorite, easy-peasy shrimp dishes is to melt a stick of butter, mix with a couple cloves of minced garlic, juice of lemon and some minced parsley. Pour that over a pound of shrimp (in the shell or not, your choice) in a metal baking pan. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours, then stick them under the broiler just until they turn color. Salad and bread for sopping up the juice and you have a fabulous dinner! Don't do this in a Pyrex or other non-metal pan. It might explode when you take it from fridge to broiler!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: onrushpam

                              They aren't huge. On the smaller side, though not tiny. Next time, he'll throw more of the smaller ones back--too much work to shell! They do have significant veins, though. I keep planning to eat them without veining and then chickening out!

                            2. This appetizer recipe is always a winner when I serve it and is best made with "medium" size shrimp.

                              Lemon herbed shrimp.

                              ½ cup olive oil
                              1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced into discs
                              1 medium onion, chopped fine
                              2 red, orange, or yellow sweet peppers, julienned
                              6 whole, peeled cloves garlic
                              1-1/2 lbs. medium size shrimp, peeled
                              juice of two lemons (about ¼ cup)
                              ¼ tsp. dried thyme
                              ½ tsp. dried oregano
                              1 baguette

                              1.Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.
                              2.Add jalapeno peppers, sweet peppers, garlic, and onions, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                              3.Meanwhile boil shrimp until just done, about 2 minutes from boil.
                              4.Drain shrimp and place in bowl for marinating. Toss shrimp with lemon juice to coat thoroughly. Add pepper mixture and mix completely.
                              5.Set aside for a few hours or overnight (if more than a few hours, refrigerate).
                              6.Bring back to room temperature if refrigerated. Remove cloves of garlic, add some dried thyme & oregano, and mix. Serve on toasted baguette slices.

                              This is not finger food. Too messy. Must use fork & usually knife. If you do not want it very spicy, remove seeds from jalapeno peppers.

                              4 Replies
                                1. re: masha

                                  Is there a reason you boil the shrimp separately as opposed to sautéing it with the aromatics?

                                  1. re: kubasd

                                    It's a recipe I pulled from the Chicago Tribune years ago and I've never made it any other way.

                                    1. re: masha

                                      Gotcha! If it ain't broke, don't fix it :)

                                2. Zatarain's shrimp boil has their recipe at their web site. Most of the boiled shrimp I have loved has been pretty close to this recipe which I have copied from Zatarain's web site as below. To me, boiled shrimp has to have Zatarain's.

                                  Boiled Shrimp
                                  For easy cleanup, line your table with newspaper so everyone can have fun peeling and eating the shrimp. Serve with corn on the cob and boiled potatoes.
                                  Makes 8 servings.
                                  2 quarts water
                                  2 tablespoons salt (optional)
                                  2 pounds large shrimp with shells on (21 to 30 count)
                                  2 teaspoons ZATARAIN'S® Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil or 1 package ZATARAIN'S® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil - In a Bag
                                  1. Bring water and salt to boil in large saucepot.
                                  2. Stir in shrimp and Crab Boil. Return to boil; cover. Cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Drain well.

                                  1. One of my favorite easy meals is shrimp simply boiled, drained, and then coated with Old Bay seasoning. I live in Maryland and this is how we eat them. The spice sticks to your fingers as you peel them and flavors the shrimp. Usually served with cocktail sauce, but I've also seen melted butter offered (I don't use either). It's so fast and tasty, and Old Bay is available pretty much everywhere these days.

                                    Since you have smaller shrimp on hand, you might also consider gumbo, shrimp salad, shrimp fried rice, shrimp and corn chowder, or in a sauce over pasta. One of my old family favorites is a very easy shrimp cocktail dip (8 oz. cream cheese, 6 oz. minced cooked shrimp, 1/3 cup cocktail sauce).

                                    One of my favorite memories is Spring Break in Key West 30 years ago, eating shrimp caught that day right off the boat in what passed for a restaurant on the dock the boats pulled in. They were small by today's cooking show and supermarket standards, and simply steamed with beer, but they were so fresh, plump and memorable. You are so lucky to have the chance to eat them fresh -- do yourself a favor and enjoy some before freezing.

                                    IMO, the shell-on vs shell-off question depends on how you are fixing the shrimp for the particular recipe. I personally wouldn't serve shrimp still in the shell if I was serving it in a sauce on pasta or in gumbo, for instance, and I would have peeled them and used the shells for the stock for a gumbo. I wouldn't peel them before cooking for boiled or steamed shrimp (I'd peel afterwards or serve spiced like I mentioned).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Terrie H.

                                      I'll probably pick up some Old Bay. It's a classic for a reason, I'm thinking.

                                    2. Another recipe using shrimp that is easy and delicious is this Bittman recipe for Shu Mai:


                                      There is a link on the above page to the accompanying article, which also has some useful information on technique.

                                      1. Nice to have so many shrimp you have to freeze some, but fresh, never frozen shrimp is a treat that few enjoy. Enjoy!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Yes, I have to say (without rubbing it in too much!) that the ones we ate fresh, never frozen, were pretty amazing. The texture of the ones I froze in bags and have since thawed is not as good. I think I will try the "freeze in water" method next time.

                                        2. I had a boyfriend that would eat the tail but not the shell. I live in Coastal GA and grew up here. We eat shrimp all kinds of ways. (Think Bubba from Forest Gump.)
                                          Frying is good. Peel, devein and toss in fine corn meal. Deep fry for maybe 4 minutes and its yummy. I boil shrimp with Old Bay most often. Don't feel or devein first, they can get chewy. You can toss in potatoes, corn and sausage and have a low country boil. They're really easy to cook once you figure it out. Let them cook until the shells are pink or the shrimp are white.

                                          Oh one more thing: after you freeze them, thaw them out by running water over them. Don't turn it of and don't let them defrost without the water.

                                          1. I know she's pretty widely loathed around here, but I love this Pioneer Woman shrimp recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/20.... I do actually shell them before I cook them, mostly because my husband cannot be convinced not to eat the shells and his crunching freaks me out a little.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ErnieD

                                              That does look very simple and good, although I'm not usually hugely into Worcestershire.

                                              1. re: loraxc

                                                I would highly recommend taking a few of the small ones and frying them in the shell, eat shell and all. Just to see if you like it, I love them that way myself but can't talk anybody else into it around my house.