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Voraciously

How to peel and devein shrimp — a visual guide

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TWP

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The Washington Post

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Yes, you can buy shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined, but doing it yourself is simple and can save you money.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• a bowl of ice to keep the shrimp cold

• a cutting board

• a small paring knife

• kitchen shears (optional)

• a damp towel

• a container for the shells

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

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There are a few options when it comes to peeling and deveining before cooking.

1) Not deveined or peeled at all. The “vein” is the shrimp’s digestive tract and is perfectly safe to eat, but some prefer to remove it because it can be gritty and/or for aesthetics. And the shells are packed with flavor, which can infuse whatever dish you’re cooking with more crustacean flavor.

2) Deveined with the shell on, which gives diners a fun activity of peeling the shrimp at the table.

3) Deveined and peeled with the tail on, which can act like a handle for serving.

4) Deveined and completely peeled, which is the easiest to eat.

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

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Peeling the shell is pretty self-explanatory: Just use your fingers to separate the legs and shell from the flesh of the body until you get to the tail. (Keep those shells — they make great stock!) Then, if removing the tail, gently tug and twist until it pops off.

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

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Once peeled, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp to expose the vein — it’s typically a dark black line, but can sometimes be pale or clear — and use the tip of your knife to remove it. (Sometimes it can be a little stubborn. If the vein breaks, just go back in to retrieve the rest.)

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

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You might notice another line on the underside of the shrimp. That is its nerve cord, which does not contain grit and is typically left in place. (Yay! Less work!)

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

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To devein the shrimp and keep the shell on, cut along the back of the shrimp with kitchen shears. Then, use the tip of a paring knife to pull out the vein.

The Washington Post

Justin Tsucalas for the Washington Post/Food styling by Nichole Bryant for the Washington Post

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