How to Cook Tiger Shrimp

How to Cook Tiger Shrimp (Image: Vitakot/iStock/GettyImages)

Tiger shrimp, dubbed the poor man's lobster because of their size and flavor, work well in almost any recipe calling for shrimp. Prized for their meaty taste, the plump crustaceans can be sauted, boiled, grilled or quickly cooked in a wok.

What Are Tiger Shrimp?

Tiger shrimp, also known as tiger prawns, have stripes on their bodies and tails that resemble those on a tiger. The crustaceans, much larger than cold-water shrimp, have firm meat and a slightly sweet flavor. They live along the African and Asian coasts, but most of the tiger shrimp on the market are farmed in Asia and South America.

Look for shrimp that smell fresh, don't have an ammonia or iodine smell and are firm and shiny. Packaged shrimp are sold by a piece per pound formula. For instance, 16/20 shrimp means that there are 16 to 20 shrimp in a pound. The lower the number, the larger the shrimp.

Because of their size, tiger shrimp take longer to cook than their smaller cousins. Tiger shrimp prices are typically higher than cold-water shrimp.

Tiger Shrimp Nutrition

Tiger shrimp are low calorie, high in protein, low in saturated fat and low in omega-3 fats. While they're higher in cholesterol than beef or eggs, they boost healthy HDL levels.

Preparing Tiger Shrimp

Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator before using them in your favorite tiger shrimp recipe. If you're in a rush, submerge them in their original packaging or a zipper-top bag in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the shrimp are thawed. Use the defrost setting on your microwave as a last resort. Thawing in the microwave might start to cook the shrimp.

Peel the shrimp if your recipe calls for it, and use a sharp knife to remove the black sand vein that runs down the back. Leave the shrimp unpeeled if you're boiling or broiling them.

To remove the heads from whole, fresh shrimp, place your fingertips at the base of the shrimp's head and twist it off. Freeze the heads and the shells to make seafood stock.

Shrimp on the Stove Top

Saute tiger shrimp on the stove top in equal parts of butter and olive oil. If you like, season the butter with garlic, fresh herbs like parsley and tarragon or spices like paprika or cayenne pepper. The shrimp are cooked when they're opaque and firm or in about six to seven minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over the finished shrimp.

Make boiled shrimp by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and bring the water back to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it and after about seven minutes, drain the shrimp in a colander and chill the shrimp quickly, either by running cold water over it or by plunging it into an ice bath.

For Lowcountry or Cajun boiled shrimp, bring a pot of water to a boil. Season the water with Old Bay or a Cajun mix like Zatarain's or Tony Chachere's. When the water is boiling, add small potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Shuck corn on the cob, add it to the pot and cook for another five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat, add tiger shrimp, cover and let sit for another five minutes.

Broiled Tiger Shrimp

Peel and devein the shrimp, but leave the tails on. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a broiler pan, brush them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle them with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Broil 4 inches from the heat for five to seven minutes, turning once. Serve as shrimp cocktail or add them to a pasta dish.

For more aggressively seasoned tiger shrimp, mash or finely chop garlic cloves and add cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. Drizzle them with olive oil and lemon juice, mix well and rub the paste on the shrimp. Broil 4 inches from the heat for three or four minutes on each side.

Grilled Tiger Shrimp

In the shell: Butterfly the shrimp by slicing it from just below the head to the tail, taking care not to slice it all the way through, and spread it open. Heat the grill to medium. Combine butter, parsley, basil and minced garlic in a small pan and heat until the butter melts. Place the shrimp shell side down on the grill and brush them with butter. Cook them for two or three minutes, turn and cook for an additional two or three minutes.

Peeled: Thread peeled shrimp on metal or bamboo skewers. If you're using bamboo, soak them in water before skewering the shrimp. Brush them with oil or melted butter, sprinkle them with seasonings or leave them plain. Grill the shrimp over medium heat, turning once, for about eight minutes.

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