To ensure cooking shrimp that are fresh and uncontaminated, follow these selection and storage tips.
When buying fresh, make sure you are able to consome it in a few days or put it in the freezer. Choose shrimp that have firm bodies with their shells intact. Avoid shrimp that have black spots on the shell. This is a sign that it is losing its freshness. Also stay away from shrimp with yellowing shells, which is usually an indication of chemical being used to bleach the shell.
Another good way of determining freshness is by smell. Shrimp with a saltwater smell are fresh. Avoid buying shrimp that smell unpleasant. Avoid buying shrimp that are prepackaged, as you would not be able to get a good indication of its freshness through smell.
Frozen shrimp comes in two forms – cooked and uncooked. Cooked frozen shrimp are pink, uncooked shrimp is usually grey-colored.
Frozen shrimp, both cooked and uncooked, come in the forms of whole shrimp and the deveined variety. They are also available with the tail on, peeled or those that could be peeled easily.
If you want to ensure your frozen shrimp are fresh, avoid buying them at a supermarket. Shrimp sold at supermarkets are those that have been thawed and placed on ice. Such frozen shrimp could lose their freshness and when cooked would be robbed of its flavor.
One easy way to detect whether frozen shrimp has been thawed and refrigerated is to look into the bag. If you see signs of ice crystals in the bag, you should avoid buying such shrimp. It’s a sign that the shrimp is of the thawed-and-refrozen variety, which aren’t going to be fresh by the time you cook them.
If you’re selecting frozen shrimp, stay away from those that have been peeled. Though it saves you the hassle of peeling before or after cooking, it loses much of the flavor.
Refrigerate the shrimp soon after buying it. If that’s not possible, and it would take you hours before you could refrigerate them, ask for a bag of ice for temporary storage. Otherwise, place them in a cooler if you have one in your car.
One way of extending the freshness of shrimp is by freezing them. To do this, wrap the shrimp nicely and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator (not too close to the door).
To defrost shrimp, place them in a bowl of cold water or defrost them in the refrigerator itself. Avoid defrosting at room temperature or by placing them in a microwave oven. Doing so could lead to a loss of nutrients through the loss of moisture.
Proper defrosting allows for evenness in cooking and keeps out bacterial contamination. It would also kill any bacteria when the shrimp is cooked.
After defrosting, both frozen and fresh shrimp can be cooked in a multitude of ways. The head and shell can be left on and removed after cooking. Cooking with the shell on allows you to enjoy the full flavor of shrimp via the shell, which traps taste-giving moisture.
Healthy ways of cooking shrimp include baking, boiling and grilling. If grilling is your cup of tea, opt for a charcoal-based grill if you would like to enjoy the full flavor of your shrimp. An important point to note is to keep the shell on when grilling. The shell will help trap the flavor of the shrimp. It’s also advisable to keep the shrimp tail on, too.
To further enhance their flavor, you should consider marinating them with lemon juice, orange and vinegar, among others. You can also use minced garlic, chopped parsley and olive oil to make your grilled shrimp a healthier dish.
To boil shrimp, immerse them in rapidly boiling water and add salt to measure. The next step would be reduce the heat and cover the work or pan, Simmer it until the shrimp flesh turn opaque in the centre.
Small and medium-sized shrimp take about 3 to 4 minutes to boil. A large shrimp would take from 5 to 8 minutes and a jumbo shrimp would take above seven minutes. If you’re not going to eat your boiled shrimp right away, after combining with another recipe, you should immerse them in cold water after boiling. This is to prevent them from cooking further and turning tough.
Large shrimp are suitable for grilling and baking. Marinating them first for a few hours would be a good idea. An oven temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit would be suitable for baking, but would take a few minutes longer than grilling.
If you must lightly fry shrimp, use olive oil.