How to Clean Shrimp

Use this guide to clean, identify, and select shrimp.


Enlarge Image Shrimp

Clean your shrimp the easy way with our simple tips.

Try This Technique:

Enlarge Image Step 1

1. Devein the shrimp by peeling the shell from it. Use a paring knife to make a shallow slit along the back from the head end to the tail end. Look for the black sand vein that runs along the center of the back. If the vein is there, use the tip of the knife to carefully remove and discard it, as shown. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water.

Enlarge Image Step 2

2. If desired, halve deveined shrimp by placing the shrimp, front side down, on a cutting board. Cut all the way through the shrimp lengthwise, making two pieces.

Enlarge Image Colossal Tiger Super-sized to wow
Enlarge Image Popcorn or Bay Shrimp Tasty in tacos or salads
Enlarge Image Jumbo Prawn Just right for grilling
Enlarge Image Large Shrimp cocktail favorite
Enlarge Image Small Tiger Ready to cook, peel, and eat
Enlarge Image Medium Perfect for pasta
  • The price of shrimp per pound depends on the size -- the bigger the shrimp, the higher the price and the fewer per pound.
  • When buying fresh shrimp for recipes, you'll need to buy 1 1/2 pounds of raw shrimp in the shell for each pound of shelled shrimp you need.
  • When selecting shrimp, look for those that are moist and firm, have translucent flesh, and smell fresh.
  • Avoid those that have an ammonia smell and blackened edges or spots on the shells.
  • Since most of the shrimp available today has been previously frozen, always check it to see if thawed shrimp is firm and shiny. If purchased frozen, make sure it is frozen solidly and has no signs of freezer burn. Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator, or place under cold running water.
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