Friday, August 3, 2007

How to Devein Shrimps or Prawns

What is the difference between a and a ? The terms shrimps and prawns used in the fish trade have no scientific basis. They are usually no more than an indication of the size of some of the 2,000 - 3,000 known species. Shrimp is usually the term applied to small prawns with over 100 to a pound in weight. Most of these are deep-sea creatures. The Gray or Brown Shrimp and the East Asian King Prawn live in shallow coastal waters. In addition to subdivisions based on size and depth of water, there is also a distinction between warm and cold-water prawns. Cold water prawns are better quality and, therefore, more expensive.

On top of this confusion, the use of the terms shrimp and prawn is not consistent throughout the world. They are usually sorted and named by their size but the system is different in Britain, Europe and the United States. The only point common to all of them is that extremely large prawns are sold as giant, king or tiger prawns.

Whether you are buying shrimps or prawns, you still have to figure out how to prepare them. You can buy them in most supermarkets either cooked, uncooked, with shell on or simply tail on, but there is no doubt that shrimp with the shell still in tact add more flavor to a recipe.

Some supermarkets will devein the raw shrimp for you, but if not, you can make your work easy with a simple shrimp deveiner like the one shown here. This is a relatively inexpensive tool and comes in handy for many preparation jobs.

To use the deveiner on raw shrimp, first run a sharp knife down its back, exposing the vein, then push the shrimp deveiner along the back, removing the vein, then rinse under cold water. This leaves the shell still in tact with the vein removed ready to add to your lobster boil, or paella recipe.

If using on cooked shrimp, first cook the shrimp. Then, if their heads are still attached, remove them. Hold the shrimp under running water and peel off the shell working toward the tail. Push the shrimp deveiner along the back, and they are ready to use in your favorite shrimp cocktail. Shrimp deveiners like the one shown here can be found in the Gourmet Fusion store, along with many other useful seafood tools.

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