Peeling and deveining shrimp can be a time consuming task so here are a few tips that will help the process be a little less painful.
1. First, I remove the legs. I pinch the legs and then pull/rip them off by pulling to the side.
2. Next, I remove the shell. Sometimes when pulling off the legs, the shell will begin to peel off. Other times, I just split the shell along the leg-side and then peel off the shell. To remove the tail shell, I split the last segment, on the leg-side…
peel it back and pull off the tail shell by pinching the tip. It’s important to pull from the very very tip of the tail shell so none of the meat is pinched, otherwise I’d just rip off the tail meat with the shell.
Pulling off the tail shell, I now have a shell-less shrimp. There isn’t a lot of meat in the tail, so if you rip off the meat with the tail shell, don’t worry about it.
3. Devein the shrimp with a toothpick. Yes, a toothpick! I picked up this technique from Ellen’s grandma (popo). It starts with sticking the toothpick through the body, from one side to the other, making sure that the toothpick lies below the vien. Then I pull the toothpick out through the shrimp’s back-side.
By pulling out the toothpick, some of the vein will also come out. I pinch the vein against the toothpick with my fingers and then continue to pull the entire vein out. If the vein breaks, I just re-insert the toothpick under the vein and pull it out again.
When I learned how to devein shrimp with a toothpick, it was with live shrimp! I don’t mean freshly killed, I mean alive and still moving with a shell on. How? Well, the cool thing about the toothpick method is that it can also be done without removing the shell. The shell is segmented, meaning there are gaps between the segments through which a toothpick can be used to pull out the vein. Deveining live shrimp is not for the fainthearted, though. You have been warned.