How to Cook Raw, Headless, Frozen Shrimp in Shells

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Things You'll Need

  • Colander

  • Bowl

  • Seasonings

  • Ice

  • Large pot with lid

Plan on a half-pound of shrimp per person.
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If you can't run down to the docks in the morning to meet the returning shrimp boats, raw, frozen shrimp are the next best thing. Readily available at supermarkets, raw, frozen shrimp are more flavorful than their precooked frozen siblings. Adding seasonings to the cooking water results in peel-and-eat shrimp that you can enjoy as is or add to salads or pasta dishes. The trick to making perfect shrimp is to stop the cooking process before they're overdone.


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Step 1

Thaw the shrimp. This is best done in the original packaging in the refrigerator, but if you're in a rush, empty the shrimp from the bag into a colander. Nestle the colander in a bowl and pour warm, but not hot, water over the shrimp. Let the shrimp soak for a few minutes, empty the water, and repeat the process. The shrimp should thaw in 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 2

Fill a large pot about two-thirds full of water. Add seasonings. Commercially prepared shrimp boil seasonings are easy to use and give a Cajun or Atlantic Coast flavor to the shrimp, but some are high in sodium. Make your own seasoning with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, a little salt and celery powder, paprika, dill or bay leaves.


Step 3

Bring the water to a boil. When the water is at a full boil, add the shrimp and wait for the water to return to boiling. As soon as it does, move the pot off the burner and cover it tightly. After about four minutes, test one of the shrimp for doneness. It should be pink and firm, but not hard, to the touch. If the shrimp aren't quite done yet, let them sit in the hot water for a minute or two more.

Step 4

Drain off about half of the water and add enough ice to cool the remaining water completely. If the ice melts as you add it, put in more. Put the lid back on the pot. At this point, the shrimp are cooked, but the longer you let them sit in the cold water, they spicier they'll be. Remove them once they're cool for mild shrimp.


Omit the seasonings for plain shrimp.

If you plan on leaving the shrimp in the water for longer than 15 minutes, put them in the refrigerator.

To peel the shrimp, pull off the legs. Hold the tail firmly between the fingers of one hand and pull the meat out of the shell with the other.

For Louisiana-style barbecued shrimp, melt a stick of butter. Add cayenne, chopped garlic and fresh ground pepper. Cook on low for a few minutes and pour over peeled shrimp.