For years, I shied away from preparing shrimp at home.
Because I didn’t know how to properly clean them, I feared that I might subject my unsuspecting guests to some foodborne illness.
During my training, I learned that while many cooks have no problem preparing shrimp without deveining, it’s important to do for two reasons:
- The “vein” is actually the shrimp’s digestive tract and contains waste – I have no interest in eating the shrimp’s poop!
- The appearance of the shrimp is much more refined and pleasant without the vein.
Being faced with the task of prepping hundreds and hundreds of shrimp during my culinary training, I came up with an approach that works for me:
I use a pairing knife to create a small slit down the backside of the shrimp and then, using my fingers, I reach in to remove the vein and dip my fingers in a bowl of water to clean off my fingers. Once it’s removed, I will typically cook my shrimp in their shell because the shell imparts great flavor when heated and helps keep the meat of the shrimp moist. Once the cooked shrimp have cooled, I use my fingers to remove the shell which has already been slit open for the deveining process.
But as they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat (by the way, what a horrible expression!). Here’s a video from my alma mater – Le Cordon Bleu – where you can learn a slightly different technique: