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Just-Right Shrimp

Bayou Fried Shrimp - Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas
Bayou Fried Shrimp Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Tips, tricks, and secrets for perfectly cooked shrimp

Notes From the Bayou
When Executive Editor Scott Jones and Test Kitchens Professional Pam Lolley traveled to Louisiana to cook with Timmy Cheramie, they brought home pages of handwritten notes filled with delicious details of the meals they shared. Pam re-created their culinary adventure for the Food staff to enjoy and passed along some of the things that make Timmy’s recipes so special.

Stylish Cuts
A simple technique known as butterflying gives Bayou Fried Shrimp a festive look. It’s a quick step that’s also used when preparing stuffed shrimp and other special dishes. Here’s how we do it.

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Peel shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Using a sharp paring knife, make a deep slit down the back of each shrimp, from the large end to the tail, cutting to but not through the inside curve of the shrimp. Open the shrimp to form a butterfly shape, and remove the dark vein.

Sizing Up the Selection
Shrimp come in a wide range of sizes―from tiny cooked salad shrimp barely bigger than a BB pellet to the super-large variety. Although larger shrimp cost more and are a better choice for some recipes, they don’t necessarily taste better.

When buying shrimp, look closely at the label and you’ll see a set of numbers divided by a slash, such as 16/20 or 51/60. These numbers refer to the count (the number of shrimp per pound). While there are no regulations governing the use of such terms as “large” or “jumbo,” stores are required to display the number of shrimp per pound.

Almost all shrimp are frozen at sea or soon thereafter―even if they are sold as “fresh” in stores. Select firm shrimp with a mild scent, or buy frozen ones with the shells on. Peeled and deveined shrimp are less protected against freezer burn. Bacteria can migrate, so avoid fresh-cooked shrimp that are displayed alongside raw fish or shellfish.

What’s Cooking?
We’d love to learn more about the creative ways you prepare shrimp. For each recipe we publish, we’ll send you $20 plus a copy of the Southern Living Annual Recipes cookbook in January. Please e-mail recipes to sl_foodedit@timeinc.com.

"Just-Right Shrimp" is from the June 2008 issue of Southern Living.

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