Harbor Seafood welcomes you to the wonderful world of Shrimp with our “101” guide to the ever-popular crustacean! Did you know that shrimp is the highest consumed seafood product in the United States? And yet, the majority of us don’t know there are over 300 species of shrimp that come in an endless amount of forms – all to be experimented with in your favorite recipe!
The most popular forms of shrimp that we typically see in the US consist of the below:
- Head-On: Whole uncooked shrimp – shrimp is sold exactly as it comes out of the water
- Headless/Shell-On: Only the head has been removed, leaving the shell and tailfins attached.
- Easy to Peel: The shell has been cut along the back to aid the consumer in the peeling process
- Peeled and deveined (P&D) – uncooked (raw): The shell of the shrimp is removed and the digestive tract along the back is removed and cleaned. P&D uncooked is available with the tail-on or the tail-off.
- Peeled and deveined (P&D) – cooked: The shell of the shrimp is removed and the digestive tract along the back is removed and cleaned, the shrimp is fully cooked and is available with the tail-on or the tail-off.
- Peeled and un-deveined (PUD) – uncooked (raw): The shell of the shrimp is removed only. PUD uncooked is available with the tail-on or the tail-off.
- Peeled and un-deveined (PUD) – cooked (salad shrimp): The shell and tail of the shrimp are removed. The shrimp is fully cooked.
Shrimp are sized by adding up the number of pieces it takes to make one pound, and it’s done using a sizing range of similar sized items. In other words, a range of “16/20” means that there will be 16-20 pieces of similar sized shrimp in one pound. The smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp! Here are some common shrimp counts and associated sizes, in case you don’t see a numerical range listed on the shrimp you are purchasing – and remember, these categories are not standard so they can vary from place to place, and brand to brand:
51-60 / lb = Small
41-50 / lb = Medium
31-35 / lb = Large
26-30 / lb = Extra large
21-25 / lb = Jumbo
16-20 / lb = Extra jumbo
15 or less / lb = Colossal
So, right now you are probably thinking, “Which shrimp item is the best for my recipe/needs?” Not to worry, we are here to help break it down and provide some tips-of-the-trade from our very own team of Research & Development Chefs! From grilled, to sautéed, to broiled, there are endless possibilities.
- Head-On: Primarily used in seafood boils and sautés, the head-on shrimp is fully in-tact and requires the user to remove the head before consuming. The shell provides an additional barrier to lock in flavor! Excellent for grilling.
- Headless/Shell-On: Can be used in seafood boils, or mixed seafood recipes such as paella and jambalaya. A major benefit of shell-on shrimp is their lower cost due to the shell remaining in-tact, and the shells provide a multitude of uses, such as the base for stocks. Cooking headless, shell-on shrimp as they are create “peel and eat” shrimp – which is best for applications where shrimp is boiled, sautéed, or broiled with a multitude of seasonings, and the consumer doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty!
- Easy to Peel: Can be used in applications where a little more added convenience is needed – applications include shrimp cocktail, and shrimp dumplings.
- Peeled and deveined (P&D) – uncooked (raw): Perhaps the most versatile and easiest option in terms of additional work required. Raw, peeled and deveined shrimp can be used for shrimp scampi, broiled shrimp, seafood boils, fried shrimp, and even skewered, grilled shrimp on the barbeque.
- Peeled and deveined (P&D) – cooked: Mostly used in applications where a cold, cooked shrimp is needed, such as a shrimp cocktail.
- Peeled and un-deveined (PUD) – cooked (salad shrimp): PUD’s are best used in applications where shrimp may be too small to devein, and where it may be mixed in with other seafood ingredients such as a Seafood Gumbo.
Here are a few of our favorite recipe ideas and which shrimp is the best to use:
- Shrimp Fried Rice (https://harborseafood.com/recipes/shrimp-fried-rice/) – Using a peeled, deveined, tail-off shrimp is best for this recipe
- Lemon Caper Shrimp Linguini (https://harborseafood.com/recipes/lemon-caper-shrimp-linguini/) – Using a peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp is best for this recipe.
- Old Bay Seasoned Shrimp (https://www.marthastewart.com/872904/peel-and-eat-shrimp) – Using a Headless, Shell on Shrimp is best for this “peel and eat” recipe.
- Coconut Shrimp (https://harborseafood.com/recipes/simple-coconut-shrimp/) – Using a peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp is best for this recipe.