How to Cook Boiled Shrimp That Are Easy to Peel

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Boiled shrimp is a regional favorite in both the American northeast and southeast. Cooks prepare the shrimp in seasoned water, often alongside vegetables. They remain in their shells throughout the cooking process. Diners shell the shrimp immediately before consumption by peeling the thin shell, legs and tail off of the meat. To reduce mess and confusion at the table, prepare the shrimp in a way that makes shell removal as tidy as possible, so that guests think of nothing more than the dish's stellar flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Shrimp, in shells
  • Slicing knife
  • Kitchen shears
  • Stockpot
  • Shrimp boil seasoning
  • Vegetables (red potatoes, yellow onion and corn on the cob)
  • Tongs or spoon
  • Cut the heads off of raw, thawed shrimp with a slicing knife, if the seller did not already do so.

  • Hold one shrimp by pinching it between two fingers on the sides of its body. Point the tail away from you.

  • Insert the tip of sharp, narrow kitchen shears into the shell on the shrimp's backside. The shrimp's back is the outer edge of its curled shape.

  • Cut along the back of the shell until you reach the tail. The shell is thin and easy to cut, so cut gently. Brisk or forceful cutting may pull off the shell. Cutting the shell exposes the flesh, allowing you to access the dark vein in the shrimp. It also makes peeling the boiled shrimp easier.

  • Slice down the back ridge of the shrimp gently, with the tip of a slicing knife, to expose the dark vein.

  • Turn the knife to its side. Slide the tip of the knife under the vein with the broad, flat side of the blade against the vein -- not the sharp edge. Lift the knife away from the shrimp to pull out the vein.

  • Fill a stockpot with enough water to cover the shrimp and any other ingredients you are boiling. Place the pot on the stove. Bring the water to a rolling boil.

  • Add shrimp boil seasoning to the rolling water. About 2 tbsp. of seasoning for every 1 lb. of shrimp is the recommended ratio for most products.

  • Add vegetables to the seasoned water, if desired. Shrimp boils commonly feature whole, red potatoes, quartered yellow onions and 4- to 6-inch segments of corn on the cob. Boil potatoes and onions for 10 minutes, until they are almost tender. Then add corn. Boil the vegetables for 4 minutes longer, before adding the shrimp.

  • Drop the shrimp into the water gently. Cook them until they are entirely white, orange and opaque, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Remove the stockpot from the heat. Drain the shrimp and vegetables.

Tips & Warnings

  • Deveining shrimp is optional. If left in, it may give a slight grainy texture to the shrimp. Some people do not notice it, or it does not bother them enough to warrant deveining each shrimp one-by-one. If you skip deveining, you do not need to cut the shell at all. The shrimp should still be easy to peel.
  • Keep the shrimp on ice until you boil them to ensure food safety. They should remain in ice during preparation, unless you are holding the shrimp to devein it. Refrain from washing the shrimp or putting them in a bowl of water, which washes flavor away.

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