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The Best Way to Cook Shrimp

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Shrimp is a nutritious, delicious and elegant addition to any seafood lover's plate. Have you ever dined out, marveling at the perfection of shrimp scampi before you? Do you puzzle over how cooking shrimp for a shishkebab over the grill differs from cooking shrimp for gumbo? Preparing shrimp is easy, you just need to know which is best for your purpose.

The smallest size of shrimp are always cleaned and already cooked. Rarely will you find them fresh, because unless they're fresh off the boat, they don't keep well, so the usual product you'll find is frozen, or partially defrosted and marked 'previously frozen'. If you're not planning on eating the shrimp tonight, it is better to go with the frozen product. Re-freezing causes the shrimp to suffer in both texture and juiciness.

The larger sizes of shrimp are usually available frozen, both cooked and uncooked, in the shell or already cleaned and shelled for you. Cooked, cleaned and shelled shrimp commands the highest price, due to the labor you are saved. If you're cooking shrimp for scampi to serve a party of six, the higher price may well be worth the time you'll save in preparing the dish. Cleaning and shelling can be tedious and time consuming.

If you purchase cooked shrimp, you don't want to cook it again! This will just result in a tough, dry shrimp in the finished dish. All you need do with cleaned and cooked shrimp is to place the amount you need in a bowl of warm " not hot " water. Keep changing the water until it is completely thawed. If you're making a shrimp chowder, save the water to add for extra flavor. You can also freeze the water for a future use in another dish.

If you're making a shrimp shishkebab dish, you want to buy the uncooked shrimp, peeled or unpeeled, as you desire. Cooking shrimp goes very quickly, in just a few minutes, over a hot grill or under the broiler. It's quite easy to see if the shrimp is done. The shrimp is transformed from a translucent blue shade to an appetizing bright pink shade.

Before cooking shrimp, you'll want to clean and peel it first, leaving only the tail portion of the shell intact. Shelling uncooked shrimp is more labor intensive, because you need to exercise greater care in shelling, so that you don't tear the meat away with the shell. If shelling, don't try to pull off the shell in one piece. Remove the shell in sections and be sure to remove the little legs on the underside. Use a sharp paring knife to eviscerate the shrimp along the top, curving portion. Now you're ready to skewer them. If you're cooking shrimp from the raw state, whether for a soup, scampi, paella or whatever, add the shrimp just minutes before you're ready to serve, for a tender, juicy result. Cooking shrimp is easy. It's just a matter of a little TLC in handling and a short cooking time. If it is pink, with no translucency to the meat, it is done!

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