Choosing The Best Shrimp Deveiner (The Ultimate Guide)
it's a job no cook enjoys.
Your hands can get wet, slimy, and soar.
And if you're faced with a mountain of shrimp that need deveining it can seem like it takes forever.
You could even end up little cuts and lacerations on your hands having peeled and deveined a couple of kilos of hard-shelled shrimp.
But if you love cooking and eating the sweet tasting flesh of shrimp and prawns than that little black thread has got to go.
There's a couple of ways you traditionally devein shrimp.
You can pull off the head, hope the vein is sticking out, and gently ease it out that way.
The middle part of the tail shell is connected to the vein and sometimes if you twist and pull it, the vein will slide out too...if you're lucky.
By far the most common way is to remove the head and shell around the tail. Run a knife along the back and poke around for a vein that may or may not be visible depending on when the little critters last ate.
There is an easier way....
Enter the shrimp deveiner.
This handy little gadget that works either like a knife or scissors depending on the design can save shellfish lovers a ton of time in the kitchen.
The best shrimp deveiner can peel, remove the vein, and butterfly the shrimp for a beautiful presentation all in one easy motion (more on this in a minute)
Below are a few examples of shrimp peelers / deveiners.
Norpro 651 shrimp peeler / deveiner.
Scissor like design with curved steel blades. About half a foot in length and weighs 2.4 ounces.
Frogmore shrimp cleaner by Toadfish.
Knife type design. Long curved stainless steel blade with a pick on the underside for removing the vein. 4.6 ounces in weight.
An automatic shrimp peeler / deveiner. Bulkier than either a knife or scissors it quickly splits the shell for easy removal of the vein.
Lamson shrimp deveiner knife.
This durable little knife is made from beautiful walnut and boasts a 3 inch curved high carbon stainless steel blade. The handle is half tang making it very sturdy and light weight at just o.8 ounces.
Oxo good grip shrimp cleaner.
Made completely from plastic and rubber. The handle is non-slip and comfortable to hold for long periods. While the blade is curved serrated plastic making it really light weight at 0,8 Oz.
What Is A Shrimp Vein Any way ?
The so-called vein (it's a bit of a misnomer) does not carry any blood. It's just the digestive tract of the animal and eating it won’t do you any harm or make you sick.
All though shrimp are bottom feeders all they tend to eat are plankton and other little sea creatures. There's probably far worse things in a sausage than there is in a shrimp's digestive tract.
If the shrimp had a last meal the vein will be a dark color, easy to spot, and filled with sand and grit. If however, the poor thing died hungry than the digestive tract will be clear and difficult to see.
If you're preparing farmed shrimp be aware that some producers starve the shrimp for a couple of days before harvesting to minimize the tract.
Unfortunately, shrimp deveining is a job your fishmonger won’t do. And if he does he'll charge for the work accordingly. (buying fresh deveined shrimp can be ridiculously expensive)
The only real way to avoid the job or cost altogether is to buy the farmed, frozen ones which often come deveined but aren't very sustainable.
All this can leave you wondering if you should bother deveining shrimp in the first place.
What difference does it make?
Why You Should Consider Removing The Vein
So, here's the deal....
Most of the time it will make no difference whatsoever and your shrimp will look and taste just fine.
Sometimes though, you'll come across a rogue shrimp that doesn't taste quite right and can have a slightly bitter, sour, or muddy taste.
Even worse is the sandy or gritty texture you can find in your mouth having eaten a shrimp that hasn't been deveined. And no sauce or dressing can cover this up.
But, Is It Really Necessary?
No, It's not....
Often the decision on whether or not to remove the vein comes down to your own personal preference and how much time you have on your hands.
If your working with small to medium size shrimp you can forgo the deveining. A teeny digestive tract means you probably won’t taste anything amiss. And they'd be far too fiddly to devein without mangling the flesh anyway.
If your cooking large shrimp it's always best to devein. Your guaranteeing they’ll look and taste great.
With some species of shrimp, the vein can become visible through the flesh once cooked and it just looks all wrong. The last thing anyone likes to see is an unsightly small black strand in their garlic prawns, shrimp cocktail, scampi, or prawns pil-pil.
By using a good shrimp deveiner you'll also be cutting an incision right down the back of the crustaceans tail.
So, once it hits a heat source it will curl up into a butterfly shape for a beautiful presentation ideal for any dish weather appetizer, entree, pasta or salad.
Shrimp and prawns are an expensive ingredient. You want them to taste their best and to do your cooking justice it's best to get rid of the vein.
How The Best Shrimp Deveiner Work.
There are two types of deveiners. You can either go for one that looks somewhat similar to a knife or the scissor-like design.
Both feature curved blades the mirror the arc of a shrimp tail and work great as shrimp peelers.
When it comes to actually taking out the vein though the knife design tends to works a little better.
The Shrimp Knife
To use it, just slide it in about halfway along the tail, between the shell and meat. Then just push the shrimp forward along the blade and off pops the shell, vein and all. Leaving a beautifully butterflied shrimp ready to be cooked.
It's not totally foolproof and using it can be a little tricky the first few times, but once you find a rhythm you'll be amazed at how easy it becomes.
The Shrimp Scissors
The shrimp scissors, on the other hand, can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to deveining
It works just like you’d expect. You simply cut along the top of the tail and remove the shell. Sometimes it will hook the vein and remove it. sometimes it won't.
Every so often you'll miss and have to pull the vein out old school with a knife or rinse it out with some running water.
What Is The Best Shrimp Deveiner?
Having peeled lots of shrimp in my day and used a few different deveiners, I.’d say that the type of deveiner you choose will come down to how you want to prepare and cook your shrimp. (check out the F.A.Q at the end of this post for a little more on this)
Below we’ve chosen five different models for you to compare. Take a look through the pros and cons to find one that's a good fit for you.
Frogmore Shrimp Cleaner by Toadfish
Lamson Shrimp Deveiner Knife
A Quick Shrimp Deveiner F.A.Q
Q. Do shrimp deviners work on cooked shrimp?
A. Short answer. No. Once a shrimp tail is cooked the vein loses elasticity and becomes brittle so there's no way to pull it out. If your going to devein than do it while your shrimps are raw.
Q. I’ve got some shrimp that have already been shelled, Will a deveiner work on these?
A. Most designs will work, but to be brutally honest once they're out of the shell you'd probably be just as quick using a regular knife
Q .Do they leave the end of the tail on for presentation?
A. The knife type shrimp deveiner isn’t designed to do this. You’d have far more success with a shrimp scissors although you might find it a little fiddly at first.
Q. I want to grill my shrimp whole. Can a deveiner remove the vein and leave the shrimp in one piece?
A. No. A shrimp deveiner will be absolutely useless in this situation. But not to worry. There is a simple way to remove the vein from a whole shrimp without the use of any knife or gadget....and all you need is a toothpick.
The Toothpick Method Of Deveining Shrimp
Grilling crustaceans whole on the bbq is without a doubt one of the tastiest ways to cook them. The shell protects the delicate flesh from the fierce heat of the coles and they steam away in their own juices leaving a smokey, moist, and succulent result.
Then all you have to do then is leave them cool a little before shelling and dipping them in your favorite sauce. Chimichurri, garlic butter, or a good saffron aioli are my own personal favorites.
If your gonna use large shrimp or prawns than make sure to remove the vein. It's really quick and easy to do with just a toothpick.
Here's how it's done....
Simply bend the tail and poke a toothpick in between the shell and the meat at the top of the tail. Than gently hook the vein and pull.
Occasionally the vein might break or you might not get it all, but you can always attack it from another part of the tail to remove the rest.
Check out the quick video below to see how it's done.
Peeling and deveining shrimp can be tedious, repetitive, a little frustrating, and oh so time-consuming. When you're in a hurry you could easily be forgiven for not bothering with it at all...
Luckily the best shrimp diviners are very affordable and can at least cut by half the amount of time it takes.
And if its speed, presentation, and a cleanly prepared shrimp you're after then go with the Frogmore.
Its unique design makes it the most accurate and user-friendly deveiner around at the minute....That is of course until some genius comes up with something else.
One last thing. After you’ve peeled all those shrimp don’t dump the shells pop them in the freezer for later use. Here's a few cool recipes for using them up.
Shrimp cocktail anyone?
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