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)
You probably already know that the best sashimi knives are eye wateringly expensive.
Prices vary from around $200 for something decent, right up to several thousand for a Japanese blade that's been hand forged and made from the finest steel.
This has probably left you wondering if you should invest your hard earned cash. Can’t you just use any knife? What difference does it make?
So, here's the deal:
Any sharp knife will get the job done. But where a razor like sashimi knife can really make the biggest difference is in presentation.
Sashimi knife design has evolved over hundreds of years and their sole purpose is to cut fish neatly and cleanly.
Don’t get me wrong, you won't suddenly be able to cut an amazing looking piece of sashimi. Or slice up perfectly uniform pieces of tuna or salmon to use in Nigiri or Miki sushi.
Practice and technique play a major part but you'll stand a much better chance.
That's the thing about Japanese food, sushi and sashimi in particular. Its impeccable presentation. So neat, tidy, and precise.
If you want to achieve the same results then you're going to arm yourself with a lot of knowledge and a razor sharp sashimi knife.
Having the best sashimi knife in your hand can even make your sushi and sashimi taste a little better. (more on this a little later)
Before we go and look at some knives it helps to know a little bit about their design and what to look out for if you plan on splashing the cash.
So, here's just some of coming up in this article.
Oyster shucking gloves aren't a fashion accessory and you won't look cool in them.....
But putting on some is the only real way to protect yourself while doing one of the more dangerous kitchen chores.
Honing your shucking technique, using a towel, and matching the right knife to the type of oyster your opening can all help you shuck more safely and drastically reduce the risk of injury.
But here's the thing:
99 times out of 100 you’ll pop the shell easily. Every now and again though you'll come across a stubborn oyster.
Maybe it’s got a particularly strong abductor muscle....
Or a deep cup where and the hinge is hard to get at. You apply too much pressure, the knife slips, and you end up with a nasty gash.
Compared to other knives, oyster blades aren't all that sharp, but they're still capable of doing some serious damage especially if you're just learning to shuck.
Some designs like the boston stabber and the Frenchman are really pointy and can leave you with a very deep stab wound if the knife slips. Evan the pros wear some sort of shucking glove, guys who been doing it all their lives, and who shuck at intense speeds.
But not for the reason you might think......
Have you ever eaten a shrimp head? Personally, they’re not my thing, though I have been known to knock up a shrimp head stock now and again.
In fact I don’t just use shrimp heads but the heads and shells of any crustaceans. Lobster, crab, prawns, and crayfish shells all make flavoursome, umami-packed stocks.
In some Asian countries, the humble shrimp head that we often throw in the trash is considered a bit of a delicacy. Fried till crispy and eaten as a snack. Or just split in half and the juices sucked out….. which I’ve tried and can report the flavour as a little bitter. Stick to the sweet-tasting tail meat I say.
That doesn’t mean that you should bin those shrimp heads though. And don’t throw them just because you don’t have a use for them right away, pop them in the freezer for another day.
The price of crustaceans like lobster, crab, and shrimp are at an all-time high because of overfishing and responsible cooks should extract every last drop of flavour.
With that in mind here’s 5 ways to use up those shrimp heads, lobster shells, crab carcasses, or whatever crustacean shells you’re left with after dinner.
It looks so easy, right?
The experts do it in the blink of an eye........
In goes the knife, a quick turn of the wrist, and off pops the shell, releasing the tasty treat inside.
Their secret....Practice and the best oyster knife for the job in their hands.
But I’ve got my own secret:
I suck at shucking and it's a job I don't enjoy all that much.
Despite plenty of practice and thousands of oysters opened, I just don't seem to get any better or more frustratingly quicker at it.
There's nothing more annoying than prodding and poking away at an oyster that won't seem to give an inch.
In fact, if you've got the wrong knife in your hand than opening oysters can seem like pulling teeth.
Shucking and eating oysters at home can save you a small fortune on the prices restaurants charge. But if you want an easy life and a pain free shucking experience than you'll need a sturdy oyster knife.
There's plenty to choose from, all different shapes, sizes, and blade designs. There's such an array on the market that you'll probably be left wondering which one to spend your money on.
Here's the good news:
Any oyster knife your lightly to buy will almost certainly open an oyster. It's just that some do a much better job than others. Some blade designs perform a lot better on certain types and sizes of oysters (more on this in a minute)
You’ll want a blade that lifts the shell easily and with as little fuss possible while keeping the oyster inside intact, especially if you plan serving them in the half shell.
But before we review some of the best oyster knifes on the market, you need to figure out which types of oysters your lightly to be shucking and then pick the right knife to open it.
It doesn’t matter what the recipe says, or what species of fish you happen to be cooking, whether its whole or cut into fillets, or if your baking, pan-frying, or poaching. When it comes to cooking fish I’ve got a golden rule…..
Whatever you do….don’t overcook it.
I like to eat my salmon pink and It hasn’t killed me. The japanese have been eating raw fish for centuries and it hasn’t done them any harm. As long as your fish is perfectly fresh then you can eat it when it’s a little underdone, it’s so succulent and delicious with the center translucent and just cooked.
It’s definitely better than if you’d overcooked it and your fish is dry, has an unpleasant texture, and lacks flavour. Any time your cooking fish don’t worry if you took if off early, you can always cook it a little more but once it’s overcooked all you can do is serve it to your cat.
Fish is the ultimate fast food. Cooking times are measured in minutes. There’s no long drawn out cooking to soften tough fibers or a need to rest it like meat. Throw a pan on the heat add a knob of butter and heat it till its foaming, fry your fish for a couple of minutes and finish it with some freshly chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon and you have a supper fit for a king cooked in minutes.
Before you put your fish anywhere near the heat you’ve got to buy and prepare it. I’ve written a post about the beat way to find the freshest fish possible, you can read it here. I’m also not going to go into detail about how to gut, fillet, and scale fish. Get your fish monger to do this donkey work. He can do a far better job in a lot less time than you can do at home.
To cook the perfect piece of fish it will help to know what heat does to its delicate flesh.