Shrimp can be dressed up as a cocktail dangling seductively from the edge of a crystal bowl or made into a quick, casual meal with a coating of batter and a plunge in the deep fryer.
Shrimp come in a variety of sizes and colors. The kind of dish you're going to make will determine the kind of shrimp you buy.
Shrimp are typically sold by count or number per pound. The higher the count, the smaller the shrimp. Extra-large shrimp, 16 to 20 per pound, are the ones you'd like to feature in a shrimp cocktail. The small ones, such as 26 to 30 per pound, are suitable for soups or stir-fry.
Larger shrimp are usually more expensive than smaller ones. Shrimp from cold waters are usually smaller, but more flavorful, according to the Food Lover's Companion.
Shrimp are marketed many ways: fresh and frozen, shelled and unshelled, raw or cooked.
Richard Stuthman, director of instruction at Baltimore International College, advises buying frozen shrimp because of the short shelf life of fresh shrimp. Just run cold water over them to defrost and they're ready to be cooked.
Although deveining shrimp is a matter of personal preference, removing the vein will make the shrimp more attractive. There are kitchen gadgets on the market designed to do the job, but Stuthman says a small, sharp knife, a cutting board and a paper towel are all you need. Here's what you do:
Remove shell at base of tail.
Gently scratch over the shrimp feelers with your thumb, peeling off the shell and exposing the meat.
Remove shell and save for making stock.
To devein, lay shrimp on its side and use a sharp knife to break the skin where the vein is.
Scrape out the vein with the knife and wipe on the paper towel.
To prepare shrimp for stuffing, gently score in the center, leaving the tail intact (pictured). If butterflying, cut through the center of the shrimp to the base of the tail.
Sauteed Shrimp Chesapeake
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
12 shrimp, 16 to 20 count
1/4 cup broccoli florets, blanched
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, whole
1/2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 ounces white wine
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
Saute garlic in vegetable oil or butter until tender. Add shrimp and continue to saute until shrimp are firm, approximately 2 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add vegetables and saute until vegetables are tender. Add herbs and spices. Stir. Add cooked shrimp and wine, deglazing the pan. Add parmesan cheese, toss and serve over pasta or rice.
Richard Stuthman, director of instruction at Baltimore International College
Per serving (for shrimp mixture only): 93 calories; 5 grams protein; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 33 milligrams cholesterol; 127 milligrams sodium