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Everything You Need to Know about Cooking Shrimp

July 24, 2023

“I love shrimp but have no idea how to cook them, help!” We hear you – shrimps are delicious as a quick mid-week dinner or a luxurious date night treat, but they can feel intimidating to cook. In this blog we’re answering all your shrimp questions, so you can feel confident cooking and enjoying shrimp dishes.

Should I buy fresh or frozen shrimp?

Both are great options! Frozen shrimp can go straight into your freezer and stay there for up to 18 months, making it a convenient choice. Fresh or already thawed shrimp will last for one to three days stored in your fridge. Remember to look for the ASC green label when you buy your shrimp, so you know they have been responsibly farmed.

Look out for abnormalities before you start cooking. If your shrimp smell like ammonia, have yellow-coloured shells or have dry spots, your shrimp have gone bad and are no longer safe to eat.

Do I need to thaw them before I start cooking?

Yes – thawing shrimp before you use them in your meal prep will give you a tastier end result. Cooking frozen shrimp won’t harm you, but the texture won’t be as appetising as if you cook from thawed.

If time allows, leave your shrimp in the fridge overnight to thaw. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as this also impacts the texture.

If you don’t have all night, put your sealed pack of shrimp in a bag or bowl of cold water to speed up thawing. Change the water every 30 minutes so it stays cold, and repeat until the shrimp are soft and slightly translucent.

How do I peel my shrimp?

Pre-peeled shrimp is widely available, but if you’d prefer to peel the shrimp yourself, it’s very simple. Find the inside curve of the shell, where the legs are, and pull the shell open with your fingers. Peel back the shell, starting at the head end, and then gently pull off the tail. If you see dark lines on either side of your shrimp and are wondering what they are and what you should do with them, take a look at our blog about this.

Pro-tip: save the shells to make a delicious stock to add to seafood risotto or fish stew. If you don’t have enough shells to make your stock, freeze what you have in a sealed bag or container until you’re ready.

To make the stock, simply fry the shells in oil for a couple of minutes to bring out the flavour, cover with water, simmer for five to seven minutes, then remove the shells and add a pinch of salt. Yum! Freeze the stock in portions for ultimate forward-planning gold stars!

What’s the best way to cook shrimp?

There are so many ways to cook shrimp! Bear in mind that shrimp are mild in flavour so they absorb the taste of whatever you combine them with – so think about using flavourful sauces and marinades to help them shine!

Many recipes call for the shrimp to be added during the cooking process with other ingredients, but if you want to cook your shrimp separately and make them the heroes of your meal, here are a few of our favourite ways to cook them…

🍤 How to cook shrimp in a pan: this is a great way to make shrimp the stars of your meal! Simply heat olive oil or butter in a frying pan, throw in your peeled and deveined shrimp and cook for two to three minutes on high heat, then flip them over and cook for another two to three minutes. Boost the flavour by first rubbing them in spices like paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes or fish spice, plus a little sea salt. Serve them with couscous and salad for a quick and healthy lunch, in a classic shrimp cocktail, or in our lime and chilli tacos.

🍤 How to grill shrimp: nothing says summer like grilling shrimp on a BBQ! Simply skewer your shrimp with thin slices of lemon in between for added flavour and grill for two to three minutes on either side on a hot, lightly oiled grill. We love a garlic saffron butter with ours!

🍤 How to bake shrimp in the oven: a lesser-known way to enjoy shrimp, but no less delicious! Lay your shrimp on a baking tray and pop in a pre-heated oven, around six inches from the heat source. Bake for two to five minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp. As before, a rub or marinate can make your shrimp even more flavourful.

🍤 How to cook shrimp on the stove: another super quick way to a healthy dinner! Boil a pan of salted water, drop in your shrimp and simmer for one to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water, then serve. This is an especially good method if you’re preparing shrimp in advance for a cold salad.

How do I know if my shrimp is fully cooked?

Did you know that these clever crustaceans tell you when they are fully cooked? While raw shrimp are a wide U shape, once ready to eat they form a C shape and are pink in colour and opaque. If the shrimp are shaped like a circle they are overcooked, which gives them that rubbery texture.

It’s really easy to overcook shrimp, so once they are in the pan or oven don’t take your eyes off them!

How long does cooked shrimp last in the fridge?

If you have leftover shrimp, you can save it to enjoy over the next few days. It will last three to four days in the fridge after cooking.

Can I reheat cooked shrimp?

Yes! Overcooked shrimp has a rubbery texture, so keep your shrimp succulent by allowing it to reach room temperature first, then reheat it on a low heat using the same cooking method as you used originally. If you are reheating in a pan, add a little water to avoid it drying out.

I’m ready to eat more shrimp!

We hope we’ve inspired you to add more shrimp dishes to your meal plan! Remember to look for the ASC green label when you shop to ensure that you are buying responsibly farmed shrimp. The ASC label is there to give you confidence that the seafood you are buying is from farms that take environmental protection and social responsibility extremely seriously. You can find out more about the standards we set for ASC certified shrimp farms here.

For more delicious shrimp recipes for all the family, visit our recipe finder, and follow us on Instagram where we regularly share fish dish inspiration.

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