- There are almost as many ways to buy these little buggars as there are to cook them. Fresh? Frozen? Pre-cooked? Shelled? Beheaded? Big? Small? What do the numbers mean?? If you're planning to follow a recipe and to cook shrimp for your crowd, do NOT buy shrimp that is already cooked... I see this happen all the time. People go home and cook shrimp that were cooked/steamed at the store and I can't imagine the rock-hard, dried out, rubberized shrimp pucks that result. Here are my tips:
- Make sure the label says "Uncooked" (if you're buying frozen), or make sure you get FRESH shrimp from a trusted fish-monger.
- Get shrimp that just a little bigger than you want to serve. Shrimp shrink a bit when they cook, and they tend to curl up. I prefer bigger ones, number 9s or maybe 10s (that's 9 or 10 to a pound). They're easier to handle, clean, etc.
- Unless you want to make your own seafood stock, get them as "pre-cleaned" as you can. Nobody wants to spend the time cleaning, de-shelling, de-pooping, and disposing of shrimp shells, legs, tails, and other nonsense.
- When you get them home, take their shells off and give them a good rinse in cold water.
- Place all of the empty shells and other "shrimp trash" into a ziplock back and park it in the freezer. You can use it to make stock OR, you can just pitch it into the garbage on trash day. Keeping it bagged and frozen will eliminate the odor, flies, and maggots that will collect in your trash bin if you just toss them in, otherwise.
- Place them in a bowl with ice and water and park them in the fridge until it's time to cook them.
- Shrimp benefit greatly from a good marinade but remember that acid in citrus can start to "cook" them a bit, so don't use pure lime juice (for example) without some olive oil or something to dilute it.
- Shrimp hate room temperatures, but the bacteria in shrimp love it. Keep them cold until it's time to cook and serve.
- Above all else, remember cook quickly (3 minutes, on average) and they're best enjoyed hot so... they're usually the last thing to hit the grill before its time to serve dinner.
- While shrimp kabobs are certainly delicious, great care should be taken to watch them. Shrimp are happiest then they cook in a liquid because they can go from "savory juicy" to "charcoal dry" quicker than you can pop open a new beer...