Leave Shrimp Tails + Shell On?

What’s everyone’s opinion on shrimp tails + shell?

I usually leave the tails and the shell on when I cook them. I also eat shrimp with the shell and tail still on. Wondering what everyone’s preference is and if you think it’s better on/off?

I’ve never been able to come at eating the shells. I know some do.

Flavour should be better if you cook with the shells on, but depending on how you’re using your cooked shrimp (or prawn) you’re not necessarily going to notice the difference.

If you’re using the shrimp/prawn on something with very simple and gentle flavours, like a salad, you’d probably want to cook it in shell to give it the best chance to shine. But if you’re adding a bunch of big bold flavours to it then cook it however is the most convenient for you.

So, my vote is firmly and unequivocally for a solid: It depends. :wink:


@Ember - Haha! It’s been so long since I’ve had shrimp without the shell + tail - so I can’t remember if they gain more flavors from them that way. Would assume so, though! I LOVE the crunch, but I sometimes I do need to be careful. I’ve had a couple of shells take a stab at the back of my throat! :fearful:

I like to cook with the shells on then remove them and de-vein them if they are big. I do not like the idea of eating or serving shrimp with the black vein still in it. @AlyssaWOAH you are lucky living on the coast where you can get freshly caught live shrimp.

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Heads on too!!! Yummy!!

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I have yet to eat the heads! How is the texure and taste of them?

It’s more of the juice in the head actually. It’s overwhelming I would say… I usually grill or bake the prawns whole, tear off the head and suck those gorgeous flavours. And if you’re doing a seafood based broth or bisque, the juices will seep out greatly enhancing the taste of the broth/bisque.

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Awesome, thanks for the tip! @cZc

Just goes to show what I sheltered life we live here in southern Ontario…never even heard of that (eating shrimp shells), so sure enough, I googled it and found a number of articles promoting it (also found some articles on how they can make bio-degradable plastic from them) :slight_smile:

If I’m doing garlic fried shrimp, I’ll remove the shells in advance and save them to make shrimp stock from.

My favourite mode to eat shrimp has been the BBQ though - dust the moistened shells with white, black and cayenne peppers and grill until they’re just perfectly done. (and I put a pinch of cayenne in my garlic butter) Because you absolutely must try to get as much garlic butter on them as possible prior to consuming. I always tell everyone not to lick their fingers (due to the peppers) as they’re peeling their shrimp, but you always do… :slight_smile:

The shrimp we normally have outside of Toronto are just the ironically named “jumbo” shrimp which are no bigger around than my pinkie finger, frozen in the grocery stores. To get the wonderful, scampi sized shrimp, you’d need to go to a very good fish store, or the St. Lawrence market in Toronto. :slight_smile:

I just always thought of the shells as something akin to finger nails…I mean you could, but why? :slight_smile:

But, the one article over on epicurious, where they’re recommending dusting them with seasoning and flour and deep frying them, to get that crunch from the shell - it does make you wonder if you couldn’t produce something unique yet vaguely similar with sous vide and the bag being full of olive oil or butter (clarified or otherwise).

@john.jcb - you could use kitchen shears or your chef’s knife to split the back of the shrimp pre-cook to get that vein out, so you needn’t do so after the cook.

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Bio-degradable plastic? Nice! I can see how they can be used in that way. I like shrimp both ways (shelled or peeled), but I definitely prefer the added crunch. For sous vide, you won’t get that crunch, unless you do a quick sear afterwards - that’s how I usually do it.