If you’re going to eat shrimp, know the best way to peel them

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

Over the years, I’ve always enjoyed making shrimp scampi, a combination of fresh shrimp, garlic and butter cooked with a little white wine and lemon juice. This classic dish is probably the most popular of the many, many shrimp dishes and is no doubt one of the easiest to make.

But before we can even start making this delicious entrée, the shrimp will have to be peeled. Boiled or uncooked, if you’re going to eat shrimp, you need to know the best way to peel them.

In the shell or not?

The first thing you’ll need to decide before peeling the shrimp is if you want to cook them in the shell or not. Always leave the shell on when boiling shrimp, as the juices and natural flavors won’t have a chance to escape. There may be occasions when you might want to cook the shrimp with the head still on, but I would suggest removing the heads before serving.

To peel shrimp, the first thing to do is make sure the head is off (for most of us, this isn’t a problem, as we tend to purchase shrimp with the head already removed). If it isn’t, just pinch it off and throw it away.

De-vein the shrimp

A very important step is to de-vein the shrimp. Leaving this vein in will give the shrimp an unpleasant, gritty texture. The shrimp’s intestinal tract runs down their back and you’ll just need to run a knife down the back to split the shell and then use your finger to pull the vane out. This task is easier accomplished under running water. 

With the shrimp facing away from you, grip between its “legs” and pull the shell around on one side. The shell should break off in one piece. Next, the tail. Grip the fin part of the tail in one hand and the body of the shrimp in the other and give a firm tug. The tail will pull away, leaving behind the meat that inside the fin. 

Now that we have our shrimp peeled and de-veined, let’s have some shrimp scampi. 

Grilled Garlicky          Shrimp Scampi

My garlicky version is grilled instead of sautéed on the stove and is perfect as an appetizer.

2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

6 Tbsps. butter, softened

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions (whites and green parts)

2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

1/2 tsp. paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the grill for high heat. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, olive oil, garlic, green onions, chives, and paprika, salt and pepper; add the shrimp and toss to coat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place shrimp on skewers and then place them on the oiled grill. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until opaque. 

Makes for a perfect appetizer or serve with linguine in a butter sauce as a dinner entrée. Makes 6 servings.

Curried Peanut Shrimp with Pasta

8 oz. fettuccini 

2/3 cup chicken broth 

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar 

1/2 tsp. salt 

1/8 tsp. black pepper 

1 piece ginger root, thinly sliced 

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1-1/2 cups green onions, sliced 

2 tsps. curry powder 

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1-1/2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

2 Tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water, following package directions. While pasta cooks, place chicken broth, peanut butter, vinegar, salt, pepper and ginger root in a food processor; process until smooth. 

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, curry and garlic; sauté for three minutes. Add shrimp; cook 6 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in peanut sauce; cook for one minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and/or a chili-garlic sauce (sold in the Asian cuisine section in local markets) on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Deviled Shrimp with Olives and Green Onions

1/4 cup butter 

1/4 cup flour 

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika 

1/2 tsp. dry mustard 

1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion 

1-1/2 cups milk 

1-1/2 cups shelled and cooked shrimp 

1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives 

2 Tbsps. dry white wine 

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsps. breadcrumbs, tossed with 2 tsps. melted butter

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth and well blended. Stir in paprika, pepper, dry mustard and green onion; gradually stir in milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. 

Add shrimp, olives, white wine and a little salt to taste. Transfer to a lightly buttered shallow one-quart baking dish; top with buttered crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 4 servings.

Southern Fried Shrimp

3 cups large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

1-1/2 tsps. salt 

1/4 tsp. pepper 

1 egg, well beaten 

1/2 cup half and half or milk 

1/4 tsp. salt 

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal 

1/2 cup flour 

1/2 tsp. baking powder 

Oil for deep-frying 

Season shrimp with 1-1/2 tsps. salt and pepper; let stand at room temperature about 15 minutes. Combine egg, cream, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and remaining salt in small mixing bowl; mix until well blended and smooth. 

Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Add batter mixture to shrimp; stir until shrimp are well coated. Drop shrimp in fryer in batches. Fry until light golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.