Cooking Shrimp Like A Professional
Cajun boiled shrimp is a perennial seafood favorite, but beginning cooks often overcook the shrimp or fail to season it properly. Here's an authentic Cajun boiled shrimp recipe and tips on how to boil shrimp perfectly every time.
Ah, shrimp. If you enjoy seafood, can there be anything more mouthwatering than a plate piled high with all different varieties of shrimp- fried, sauteed, baked or boiled? A good shrimp cocktail is always a promising appetizer to serve, and shrimp salad is also a crowd pleaser. But how do you prepared boiled shrimp at home without overcooking it or having a bland, flavorless result? Here's a recipe for perfect boiled shrimp, obtained from a professional Cajun chef for one of the largest cafeteria chains in America.
Ingredients you will need:
At least 1 pound of fresh or frozen fresh shrimp,
preferably 45-50 count minimal. ('Count' refers to how many individual shrimps make a pound. The lower the count, the bigger the shrimp.)
1 large onion, yellow or white.
1 stalk of celery. (The whole thing, not 1 rib)
1 bag of Crab Boil seasoning. Look in the spice section or the seafood department.
Large pot of boiling water.
Large tub or roasting pan filled with ice, and a bucket of ice in reserve.
Skimmer tool, or at least a large slotted spoon.
Start a large pot of water boiling. Place the container of ice in an appropriate place very close to the boiling water, and have the reserve bucket readily available. Once the actual cooking starts, the time becomes a critical factor.
Peel the large onion and make several slashes with a knife, but do not cut or dice. Place the entire onion into the water.
Wash the celery stalk, then place the entire stalk into the water.
Slash the lemons several times with a knife, and place them into the water. Do not peel or cut them into smaller pieces.
Add one bag of Crab Boil seasoning to the water, and stir the water gently. Crab Boil may contain some irritating seasonings, so handle with care.
Allow the water to come to a full boil. When the water has become hot enough, add a portion of the fresh shrimp to the pot. Since timing is everything here, you'll want to cook your shrimp in small batches for consistency. Unlike fried shrimp recipes, you do not need to peel or devein your shrimp before boiling.
Watch the shrimp very carefully. Stand ready with a skimmer or large slotted spoon. Once the shrimp have changed to a white and pink appearance and have floated to the surface, immediately scoop them out and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking action. This may happen all at once, or individually, but you must get the shrimp out of the water instantly when they start floating. Continue adding small batches of shrimp to the boiling water, and cover the cooling shrimp with more ice from the reserve bucket. Once all the shrimp have been boiled and iced down, then you can start peeling them.
Many people do not mind peeling their shrimp at mealtime, but if you are serving shrimp cocktails or shrimp salad, you'll need to peel the shrimp in the kitchen. The fastest way to peel boiled shrimp is by holding the tail section firmly in one hand while simultaneous grabbing the shell section just below the last set of legs and twisting the entire shell around the meat.
Once you have peeled your shrimp, you may have to devein them. It isn't always a requirement with boiled shrimp, but you may want to consider doing this for appearance. Take a small, sharp knife and run it straight along the 'spine' of the shrimp, the outer curved section. You only need to cut approximate 1/8 inch into the meat. You should see some blackish material and possible a small vein running the length of the cut. Scrape out the discolored material with your fingers or the knife. Wash the shrimp to remove any traces of vein or other residue. If you do not devein the shrimp, it may have a gritty texture when eaten. It is not dangerous, but can be distracting for the diner.
Once you have peeled and deveined your boiled shrimp, you are ready to serve it any way you like. Hang several large shrimp on a dessert glass filled with cocktail sauce. Offer a large plate of unpeeled shrimp as an appetizer, with several sauces. Mix the peeled shrimp with mayonaise and celery for a quick shrimp salad. The possibilities are endless.