How to Prepare Rock Shrimp for Cooking

Rock shrimp can substitute for shrimp or lobster in most recipes.
Rock shrimp can substitute for shrimp or lobster in most recipes. (Image: shrimp image by Liz Van Steenburgh from Fotolia.com)

Although rock shrimp are related to the common shrimp, they're more similar to lobster in flavor. In fact, their name comes from their lobster-like shell, which is "hard as a rock." They can be broiled or boiled, or cooked like lobster. No matter how you cook them, watch them carefully as rock shrimp cook more quickly than traditional shrimp. Some suppliers sell them peeled and ready to toss into a pan, while others sell them with shells and head still attached. Doing the prep work yourself can be a bit tedious, but these delicious and low-fat creatures are well worth the effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Rock shrimp
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife

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Preparing Rock Shrimp

Keep rock shrimp cold until it's time to cook. Store them in the coldest part of the fridge for no more than two days, or keep frozen for up to six months.

Check each piece to be sure it's fresh. The shells should be tight against the flesh, there should be no discoloration, and shrimp should smell like seawater rather than having a "fishy smell." Discard any pieces that are questionable.

If your shrimp still have their heads attached, remove them by gently pulling them off the body.

If you want to cook the shrimp in their shells, which is preferable for the broiling method, you need to remove the sand vein first. Place shrimp belly side down, and use the knife to split the shell from top to bottom without cutting into the flesh. Spread the shell apart enough to see the vein, and remove it with the knife.

To peel and devein, place the shrimp with its belly facing up. Using the sharp tip of a knife, cut all the way down the length of the body. Split it open and remove the shell. Use the knife tip to remove the vein. Rinse each shrimp individually.

If you're not cooking the shrimp right away, or if you're using a marinade for extra flavor, put them back into the fridge until you're ready to cook them.

Tips & Warnings

  • As a general rule of thumb for how much shrimp to buy, you'll want about 1/2 a pound per person if you're buying shrimp still in their shells, or 1/4 a pound for shrimp that comes already peeled and deveined.

References

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