A while back, I found some really inexpensive shrimp at a local market and bought them. It was only when I arrived home that I realized I had bought shrimp in the shell with their vein still intact. At first, I was nervous about peeling and deveining the shrimp myself … but I soon learned that it just wasn’t that bad (and the price really was great!).
Whether you were tempted by the discounted price of unpeeled shrimp or accidentally bought the wrong bag, getting shrimp still in their shell and with their vein intact is not a terrible thing. In fact, many argue that you should only buy shell-on shrimp since they have better flavor.
But if you aren’t sure how to peel and devein shrimp, don’t panic. It’s a relatively simple technique that will save you money.
Start with defrosted but cold shrimp. If you’ve purchased yours frozen, they will need to thaw before you can remove the shell.
The first step is to cut a slit along the back of the shrimp with a sharp knife. It should be about a quarter inch deep. Gently peel the shell off the shrimp, leaving the last segment of the shell and the tail on, if desired.
The shrimp shells are great for making fish stock, so you may want to collect them all in a resealable bag as you go. They can be frozen until you are ready to use them.
Next, you need to remove the vein. With the tip of the knife, very gently prod the dark vein out of the slit you cut. It runs from one end of the shrimp to the other, so be sure to get the whole thing. Discard (and rinse the shrimp under cold water if you happen to make a mistake and spill some of the dark debris into the cavity).
As you go, deposit the freshly peeled and deveined shrimp in a bowl. Once finished, store them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
See? Easy peasy.