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Dec 13, 2013 10:55 AM

Should restaurants leave the tails on shrimp?

Perhaps I don't know the correct technique, but it really bothers me when restaurants leave the tail-shell on shrimp in dishes that are not intended to be eaten with your hands. Yesterday I ordered a bowl of pho and was very put off that I had to de-tail each shrimp myself- they were so hot from the steaming bowl of soup that my fingers burned.

I know that cooking shrimp in the shell adds flavor and can protect the shrimp from being overcooked, but shouldn't they remove it before serving if it's not meant to be finger food? Is this standard, or are restauarants just being lazy?

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  1. Who said you had to detach the tails? That's a tasty source of glucosamine right there.

    1. a former co-worker said they were a good source of fiber.

      it was kinda weird when he asked for the shrimp tails from another co-worker's plate.

      1. The thought of eating the tails grosses me out, but I don't mind that restos serve dishes with the tails on.
        When we eat shrimp cocktail, of course you use your hands and pick the shrimp up by the tail.
        For dishes that include shrimp- at home, I take all the tails off. For company, I leave a couple on for looks.
        At home, eating take out Thai, for example, I'll pick the shrimp up and eat it because it's just me and DH.
        In a restaurant, I'll use utensils and leave the tail meat for etiquette sake.

        1. I hate when restaurants do this especially in a dish that is not meant to be eaten with your hands. I always take them off at home and the thought of eating them disgusts me.

          1. I've never really understood it, but apparently once upon a time leaving the tails on was a sign that the shrimp was fresh because frozen shrimp had the tails removed along with the shell. I do not know if that is true now, was true then, or if it is just an old saying that was never true but lots of people believed. That could explain restaurants leaving the tail on, they wanted people to know (believe?) that they were serving fresh rather than frozen product.

            2 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I've never heard this, and at least for the last 35 years, it hasn't been true, but may have been before that. Shrimp have been sold by the frozen 5lb box, tail on since at least 1977. I love eating the tails, btw.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                I've always heard the tails on was for 'presentation'.