Nina’s Tips & Techniques: Fall Cooking Series featuring Shell on Shrimp

What do I do with shrimp for cold weather food? I always think of seafood as light and summery…

Seafood does often get associated with lighter fare, but there are tons of cold weather preparations that still celebrate all the tasty things that come out of the sea! Shrimp have a very strong flavor, and so they hold up well when paired with bigger flavors. I love to saute them with garlic and spices and serve them over rice or other grains (think cajun). Paella is a great all-season dish that can be hearty in the winter months. Most of all I love a hearty fish stew with lots of fish, shrimp, and shellfish.

Is it better to buy shrimp with the shells on or off?

“Better” is a matter of opinion…or maybe rather determined by what you are doing with your shrimp. Just like when you choose to cook meat on the bone for extra flavor, shrimp shells have the same effect. Sometimes I buy prepared shrimp if I’m in a hurry or if I have no use for the shells. But other times I buy them shell-on on purpose, even though it is more work, because I want the extra flavor to end up in my dish. For example, it is super easy to make a quick shrimp stock out of the shells. After they are removed from the shrimp just cover them with cold water. Bring the shells to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, strain, and reserve. This is a great substitute for fish stock or chicken stock for soups, stews, sauces, etc.

What is the easiest way to devein shrimp?

I use a very sharp paring knife and make a little slit all the way down the back of the shrimp. Then under running cold water I wash out the vein. To save time try doing all the peeling, then all the slicing, then all the removal of the veins. It is faster and more efficient than doing every single shrimp start to finish.

Featured Recipe: Seafood Cioppino