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Did I see that right? Did Martha NOT devein those shrimp?

I watched an episode of Martha Stewart's Cooking School that was devoted to shrimp. She explained about the various types/colors of shrimp available, sizing, peeling (be sure to leave that last tail section on), deveining and cooking methods. But when she demonstrated how to cook and present shrimp for a shrimp cocktail I swear she never deveined those shrimp. Did I see correctly?

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  1. Don't know. I could never figure out why it's ok to eat a whole oyster, clam or mussel but horrors! Make damn sure you remove that little dark string thingy from the shrimp! If I learned nothing else from watching years of Top Chef, you will be crucified if you don't.

    And I hate getting shrimp in a dish (like pasta or rice that you don't eat with your hands) with the tail left on. I have to poke around with a knife and fork and remove the tail shells off to the side. When you shell the shrimp why not just remove the tail too and be done with it?

    11 Replies
    1. re: RC51Mike

      I totally agree with you about leaving the tail on. It really serves no purpose, and you're left having to either find a place to toss them or shoving them to a corner of your dish and hoping you don't accidentally scoop them up with a forkful of food.

      1. re: CindyJ

        I only leave the tail on if it will be a finger food, like coconut shrimp. Otherwise I take it off.

        1. re: wincountrygirl

          But if it's finger food, why not just peel it all and use your fingers just the same? Otherwise, what do you do with the tail shell?

          1. re: CindyJ

            Lots of people like to eat the tails, shells and all.

            1. re: ChefJune

              I like to prize that last little piece out of the tail with my teeth. It's the sweetest part of the shrimp.
              Some shrimp need deveining, some don't. If the vein's not full of sand or algae, I rarely bother.

              1. re: EWSflash

                I do too. I hate to waste perfectly good shrimp bits hiding in the tail. It drives my wife crazy though. She'll sit for hours and pick tiny bits of crab meat but not that little bit out of the tail of a shrimp.

                1. re: RC51Mike

                  I've got it pretty much perfected, taking the skin and tail off and leaving all of the little bits. When it's raw, anyway.

                  I've seen people served shrimp with the tail shell left on that bite the shrimp right where the shell starts and throw the rest out. The horror...

              2. re: ChefJune

                IMO there are at least three reasons that many people leave the shells on shrimp (be it just the little tail or more): shrimp shells are delicious to eat, shrimp shells contribute good shrimpy flavor to cooked dishes, and shrimp are more visually appealing when they're not totally naked.

        2. re: RC51Mike

          RCMike... Totally agree with you that much "nastier" things are consumed with no questions asked. Chitterlings, foie gras, duck feet, sweetbreads, and even SPAM!!! Totally surprised that Martha "It's a good thing!" didn't devein hers.

          Most people do not eat the shells of a shrimp. Tails are left on for cosmetic purposes only. What little "extra" flavor comes from leaving the tail on is minimal. Makes no sense to me. When cooking at home, I always remove them. Only time the shell is left on is when the shrimp go directly on the grill w/ a sauce underneath the shell. Traps all of the flavor in!!!

          1. re: Phoebe

            I could see cooking a shrimp dish and putting in a cheesecloth bag of the shrimp shells to add flavor.

            I always grill the shrimp fully clothed too.

            1. re: Phoebe

              I leave a bit of tail shell on my Cajun Barbecue Shrimp because it's easier to pick up that way; and if you pinch the tail at the base, the meat slides right out when you eat it.

              Jacques Pepin says in one of his books that his wife loves to "munch on the shells".

          2. The only reason I devein shrimp is for appearance, and sometimes speed of cooking. Small shrimp I never devein. There really is no point to it, other than aesthetics. I leave the tail shell on if it will be in a "dry" dish...grilled or shrimp cocktail (finger food, basically). If it's in a "wet" dish, say a sauce or stew, I completely shell the shrimp...too messy otherwise.

            1. I have never deveined a single shrimp in my life. Jacques Pepin says it's not necessary, and I agree.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jmckee

                Some of those veins, especially in the larger (16+) shrimp, are pretty icky.

              2. Glad I'm not the only one too lazy to devein.

                1. I didn't see the episode, but there is no particular need to devein the shrimp. When you order a bucket of peel and eat shrimp in a cafe or brasserie, you don't devein the shrimp before eating it, you just peel it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    And that's why I don't order the bucket of peel-&-eat.

                  2. I devein if I'm making the shrimp for others and I can see the vein is thick. Sometimes shrimp don't have them & I skip it.

                    If it's just me, then I don't bother, it's not worth it.

                    I'm guessing Martha had someone else devein the shrimp for her.

                    1. I don't mind eating that little bit of black whatever it is, of course I mostly eat small/medium shrimp, when I do eat larger shrimp I do take it off if it is there and it bothers me, but I just don't know what the big deal is.