Easy does it.
For as much
shrimp as we Americans eat a year, we sure do treat the little crustaceans poorly.
It’s kind of amazing actually—the typical person living in the U.S. will eat more than 10 pounds of shrimp in a year, according to the latest Fisheries in the United States report. Ten pounds.
But if you think back to all the shrimp you’ve eaten this year, how many pounds of what you’ve had would you say was really good? And I’m not talking about deceptive shrimp—the kind of shrimp that hides beneath a puffy jacket of fried coconut batter or swims in butter and garlic and more butter. I’m talking about juicy, tender, flavorful, really good shrimp.
That kind of shrimp is hard to come by—and it’s kind of shrimp’s fault.
Shrimp, by nature, is tough to cook because it cooks so fast. If you’ve ever had rubbery grilled shrimp, that’s because the high heat of the flames blasts the poor protein to overdone quickly, even after just a minute or so on the grill. Same goes for shrimp sizzled in a searing-hot pan.
The best way to cook really good shrimp is to use low heat to coax the crustaceans to tenderness. And, you can improve your odds by leaving their shells on as they cook.
As long as you maintain a watchful eye, this method is foolproof, really.
You don’t even need butter.
thawed, shell-on shrimp
Fill a medium pot about 3/4 full with water. Add about 1 Tbsp of salt and bring the water to a simmer over medium low.
Gently add the shrimp to the water and gently cook until the shells are a vibrant pink, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the simmering water and either transfer them to a plate, if you want to eat them hot, or to a bowl of ice water and then a colander to drain, if you want to eat them cold.
Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.
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