"...Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it..."-Bubba, Forrest Gump (1994)
We gotta agree with Bubba here: Shrimp are a culinary treasure trove! Cooks worldwide embrace shrimp's versatility. As a result the crustacean makes an appearance in an array of international cuisine, from Mexico's coastal ceviche to America's Lowcountry shrimp & grits to China's Cantonese shrimp dumplings.
Because shrimp cook quickly -- only about 5-7 minutes for boiled shrimp -- watch for the telltale signs that they're ready: turning pink and curling slightly. Be careful about cooking them too long. When shrimp are overcooked, they tend to get rubbery in texture. This rule of thumb also applies if you're marinading them in citrus juices, because the acid will "cook" them. For this reason, most recipes will specify any marinading and/or heating times.
To devein or not? The "vein" running down the center of the shrimp is actually its digestive system, containing bits of grit and waste. As long as the shrimp are cooked properly, they're safe to eat even if they haven't been peeled & deveined, such as in shrimp cocktail.
Nonetheless, if you're squeamish about shrimp veins, you can easily buy shrimp that have been deveined at Fiesta's Seafood Department -- or, if you have a little extra time, you can devein them at home. Just peel the outer layer from the raw shrimp, and using a small kitchen knife or paring knife, slice a thin, shallow line along the shrimp's back and pull out the vein. Mind you, with larger shrimp you may need to turn the shrimp over and repeat the procedure on its underside: Sometimes small bits of the vein remain visible.
Once the shrimp are prepped, initially use a light hand with the salt when you're seasoning them. Depending on the manufacturer, salt may have been used at some point during the processing, adding to the natural salt in this saltwater shellfish. Depending on the recipe, some people first soak the shrimp in cold water or milk to remove some of the saltiness, but that's an individual preference.
Ready to get cooking? To whet your appetite, here's a Caribbean-influenced shrimp recipe, courtesy of Goya:
Shrimp in Coconut Sauce
1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon Goya Adobo with pepper
3 tablespoons Goya olive oil
2 cups onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, sliced very thin, both white and green (reserve 1 tablespoon green tips for garnish)
1½ teaspoon garlic, minced or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup tomato sauce
1 cup clam broth
1 can (13.5 fluid ounces) Goya coconut milk
4 cups hot cooked white rice
Season shrimp with Adobo and set aside. In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Stir in onion, scallion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in clam broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, turning once, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to serving platter, garnish with scallion. Serve accompanied by rice.
For additional shrimp dish recipes, visit Fiesta's Recipe Corner.