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Ask The Chef

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Dear Chef, 

I have been cooking for over 50 years and have never deveined my shrimp. Never saw the real need for it. I love cooking and ethnic foods. Friends and family never complained. A couple of friends my age are shocked that I don’t devein. Are there many people who don’t devein? How important is it to devein? Does it really affect taste, etc?

Thanks for your help. I don’t know who else to ask!

Terry from Morristown, NJ

The vein running down the back of shrimp will not hurt you, but the taste is unpleasant and often sandy and gritty. Not all shrimp have sandy veins, but it is worth checking each shrimp, so that your guests enjoy every single bite of your delicious dish. Yes, there are people who don’t devein, but they probably don’t wash their lettuce either. The larger the shrimp, the more prominent the vein is.

The plastic “shrimp deveiner” tools tear the shrimp meat and are more trouble than they are worth. A sharp paring knife and a paper towel is all that’s needed to effectively devein shrimp. Although “peeled and deveined” shrimp is available on the market, I prefer to buy the shrimp that is still in the shell and then peel and devein the shrimp. Shrimp that has been frozen without the peel is usually drier and tougher than shrimp that is frozen with the shell on.

Creamy, rich Italian risotto is a wonderful showcase for shrimp.

Shrimp Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • ¼ pound sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
  • 4-5 cups shellfish stock, heated
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan or braiser pan. Cook the onions and mushrooms on high heat for about 5 minutes. Season well. Add the rice and coat the kernels with the butter. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Cup by cup, add the lobster stock to the rice and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Add the tomato sauce, cream, and spinach. Check the seasonings. Garnish with parmesan cheese and fish.