Is Headless Shrimp Better Than Shrimp with the Head On?
Water is home to a sea of delectable creatures, from large fish to shelled critters. But perhaps one of the most common seafood people enjoy is shrimp.
You can prepare shrimp in a number of ways. But one question people wonder when preparing shrimp is whether or not they should keep the head on. Well, we’re here to see if headless shrimp is better than with the head on.
Headless vs. Head-On Shrimp
Most of the shrimp’s fat is located in its head. So, when the shrimp has its head on, it tends to become mushy. On the other hand, headless shrimp can retain their original crispness and texture because of the absence of fat.
If you want to further preserve the texture of the shrimp, you can do so by freezing it. However, you should note that the fat in the shrimp’s head needs to be kept at a lower temperature than what the shrimp’s body needs.
Some might prefer shrimp with the head on as it can add more flavor into the dish when cooking. But even if you have headless shrimp, you can still get some flavor from the shrimp’s shell. That is why a lot of people prefer to cook shrimp with the skin still on.
How to Remove the Head
If you wish to remove the shrimp’s head before cooking, you must handle it with care. Head the shrimp one at a time to avoid getting poked by the pointy parts.
While heading shrimp is relatively easy, it can get a bit messy. So, it’s best to choose the right workstation. Preferably, you should do it in the sink with a colander to keep the shrimp in. Have some kitchen towels or paper towels in hand to clean up the mess.
To begin, take one shrimp in your dominant hand and hold it firm. The shrimp’s body should be curving towards you. Bend your index finger and place it behind the shrimp’s gill plates. Place your thumb on the other side.
Using your other hand, firmly grip the head. Your thumb and forefinger should also be on the opposite sides of the gill plates. In one quick swoop, snap the head off and remove the black digestive tract.
Do this to the remaining shrimp, and make sure you properly dispose of the heads if you’re not planning to use them for shrimp stock. Properly rinse the headless shrimp and prepare them for cooking.
How to Eat Shrimp
Shrimp is one of those dishes you may not be sure how to eat in public. Depending on the restaurant, you may get away with peeling the shrimp with your own hands, as this can be easier. However, if you’re eating at a fancier place, you might need to practice peeling shrimp using your utensils.
If the cooked shrimp still has its head on, you can hold the shrimp down with a fork and use a spoon or knife to cut just below the bottom of the shrimp’s head. While still holding the shrimp down with a fork, use an upside-down spoon and slide it under the shell. This will loosen the shell. Apply pressure to the tail without cutting it and slide the tail away from the shrimp’s body. Voila! You have a peeled shrimp ready to eat.
While you can definitely cook shrimp with both the head on and off, headless shrimp allows for a crisper texture due to the absence of fat in the head. If you want to use headless shrimp, you can still use the shrimp head in your sauce for added flavor. But if the shrimp already came headless, cooking with the shell on can still give the dish that yummy flavor.
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