Cooking School

7 things not to do when you cook shrimp

Jodi Pudge Author: Canadian Living Credits: Jodi Pudge

Cooking School

7 things not to do when you cook shrimp

To cook shrimp in a skillet, heat oil (or butter) over medium heat. Add your peeled shrimp, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink and opaque, which should take anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan. As soon as the shrimp is pink and opaque on both sides, remove the shrimp from the heat or it will very quickly go from perfect to overdone.

Here are 7 things to avoid when cooking shrimp:

1. Using shrimp that’s past its prime: All protein tastes best when it’s super fresh, but that’s a real non-negotiable for shrimp. Fresh shrimp should be used within 24 hours, as should thawed shrimp. If you’re not sure when you’re going to consume the shrimp, it’s best to buy it frozen so you can take it out as needed.

2. Over seasoning: Shrimp is naturally quite salty, so make sure not to over season it. Taste as you go and err on the side of under seasoning. You can always add a little pinch of salt if needed, but it’s much harder to take one away!

3. Cooking shrimp that hasn’t been completely thawed: Shrimp must be completely thawed before cooking. If it isn’t, you’ll end up with a watery, unappetizing mess. Once your shrimp has completely thawed, you can pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking. This will remove excess water and give your shrimp the best possible texture.

4. Low heat: Make sure the shrimp starts searing away when it first hits the pan so it doesn’t simmer instead of searing. Medium heat is as low as you should go!

5. Keeping the tails: There is a time and a place for keeping shrimp tails attached  (think shrimp cocktail) but when eaten as part of a dish, it’s easier and less messy to not have to deal with the shrimp tails at all.

6. Forgetting to properly peel and unvein the shrimp: Although most of us are well-aware of where our food comes from, finding a piece of shrimp shell or a black vein (which is basically the intestinal tract of the shrimp) is not incredibly appetizing — and it doesn’t taste good! Make sure to evenly peel the shrimp and devein it before using. Even when shrimp is labelled as deveined, it’s a good idea to quickly check each one just to make sure it’s been adequately cleaned.

7. Buying previously cooked frozen shrimp:
Shrimp which has already been cooked and then frozen might seem like a great time-saver, but it really does not have the best texture. It’s more watery and usually doesn’t taste that great. Always opt for unpeeled, uncooked frozen shrimp if you're not buying it fresh from the fish counter.

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Cooking School

7 things not to do when you cook shrimp

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