Did you know that shrimp are the numero uno shellfish consumed in the United States? Once you consider how often we throw them into quick weeknight dishes and their all-around tastiness, this doesn't seem like such as a huge surprise. Do you often cook with shrimp?
Shrimp come in all shapes and sizes, from as tiny as your fingernail to as long as big as your hand. In the grand scheme of seafood, shrimp is one of the most sustainable options you can find, especially wild-caught US shrimp. Shrimp freezes beautifully, and given the perishable nature of fresh-caught shrimp, buying frozen shrimp is very often the best choice. This and the fact that the seasons for various shrimp overlap make it possible to find good-quality shrimp all year round.
The majority of the shrimp sold in stores comes already peeled and deveined (marked "P&D") with the end of the tail still attached. If you do happen upon some shrimp with their shells still on, you just need to split the shell over the belly where it's softest and work it off. To remove the vein, make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp with a paring knife and pull it out. Once you do one or two of these, the process is pretty easy!
Shrimp cook remarkably fast. Just toss them in a hot pan with butter or olive oil and let them cook until pink and opaque, five minutes or less depending on the size of your shrimp. You can also grill, roast, or stir fry shrimp, and their mild flavor makes a fantastic backdrop for any number of spices, rubs, and sauces.
You see now why shrimp is one of our favorite ingredients and why we always have a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer. As an easy, affordable, and versatile ingredient to use in everything from pasta to tacos, it can't be beat.
What are your favorite ways to cook with shrimp?
More About Shrimp
• Conscientious Cook: How to Buy Shrimp
• Fresh or Frozen Shrimp? Buy Frozen!
• What's the Difference? White, Brown, or Freshwater Shrimp
• What's the Difference Between a Prawn and a Shrimp?
Recipes with Shrimp
• Shrimp and Grits
• Chili, Lemon, and Basil Shrimp with Israeli Couscous
• Spicy Grilled Shrimp
• Tomato-Cilantro Shrimp
• Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta
Related: Oysters, Crabs, and Shrimp! A Tour of Louisiana Seafood
(Image: Emma Christensen)