There are over 300 species of shrimp with a characteristic flavor, and they are all delicious. You can serve them both cold and hot, and you will surely like them either way. When it comes to different kinds, the smaller cold water ones are succulent and sweet and they are usually used in salads and sandwiches, while the bigger warm water kinds have stronger flavour and generally go into oriental dishes with stronger spices and sauces. Although shrimp can be prepared in many ways, boiling them is the easiest way; it takes only a few minutes to boil shrimp.
But first, there are a few things to know. Fresh shrimps are really rear to find, so you will usually buy them frozen, either raw or cooked. Here you should pay attention to avoid peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, their flavor and texture might be lost because shell protects the meat and gives it flavor.
You must completely defrost shrimp before boiling them. This way you will destroy the harmful bacteria and ensure more even cooking. Never defrost any type of shellfish neither at room temperature nor in the microwave. Instead, remove the shellfish from their original packaging and put them in a bowl, cover it and leave to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. The faster way to defrost them is to wrap the shrimp tightly in waterproof packaging, and put them into a sink full of ice cold water.
You can boil shrimp with or without the shell and head still on. It’s better to keep the shell intact for a better taste and moisture. If you do decide to remove it you can do it after boiling, but it is easier if you do it while they are still frozen. In any case, it’s not at all complicated. Simply twist the head to remove it and pull the legs off, then hold the tail and lift the shell upwards and away from the body.
When it comes to the intestinal vein that runs along the back of the shrimp, it is also your choice whether you want to remove it or not. It is actually its digestive tract and it is edible. You should, however, remove the vein if you notice it is dirty, particularly with bigger shrimp, otherwise it will ruin the taste. And again, you can do it before or after cooking, but it might be easier to de-vein shrimp before boiling.
Just trace the line of the vein with the edge of a sharp small knife down the back of the shrimp and then wash it under a running tap. If the water doesn’t wash it away, clean it with the tip of the knife. You can leave the shell on and still remove the vein, if only you manage to carefully draw out the vein in one go from the one end of the shrimp. If you don’t succeed, cut the shell or part of the shell with a small knife or scissors and lift out the vein.
And now we come to the boiling process itself. Shrimp need only a couple of minutes to be cooked, only the bigger shrimp will need 7 or 8 minutes at the most. So, be careful not to overcook them, or they will lose their sweet, delicate flavor. When they are pink, you will know they are ready.
To do it properly boil 2 liters of water with 2 tablespoons of salt, and add shrimps, reduce the heat, cover them and simmer for about 5 minutes after the water begins to boil again.
If you want to try different tastes, try adding a few slices of lemon, lime or orange to the boiling water. You will know they are cooked when they start floating and also when you cut one in half and see white or opaque flesh. As soon as you remove shrimp from the heat, run them under cold water for a few seconds to stop the boiling process.