As Bubba Gump said, there are limitless ways to prepare shrimp. You can boil it, fry it, grill it, steam it, broil it, or sauté it. You can make gumbo, ettoufe, soups, salads, stir-frys, fried rice, chowders, scampi, shrimp tacos, paella, spring rolls, and the list goes on...
From a limitless list, we have selected 20 of our favorite shrimp recipes with a variety of preparations. But first, a few words about shrimp, the most versatile and arguably the most universally loved shell fish.
Buying shrimp: Shrimp is sold in many forms, raw in the shells and headless, raw with heads, raw and peeled with the tails intact, cooked and live. In many parts of the country, shrimp is sold in grocery stores pre-frozen. Pre-frozen shrimp are usually imported and can suffer soft shells when they thaw on the grocery shelves. Whenever possible it is always preferable to buy local, fresh shrimp.
Fresh shrimp is firm with a fairly hard shell. As a rule of thumb, the softer the shells, the older the shrimp. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to buy shrimp right off a shrimp boat, you will have found that the shrimp were a little difficult to peel and the shells were quite hard. Shrimp this fresh have an incredible flavor with absolutely no ‘fishy’ taste.
Some people prefer to buy shrimp with the heads on. This type of shrimp can be found in fish markets and often in Asian markets. The shrimp can be grilled with the heads on and snapped off as they are eaten. The heads can also be removed prior to cooking and used to flavor sauces or soups.
Buying raw shrimp with the shells has many advantages. It is usually fresher, it yields more than pre-cooked shrimp because shrimp lose some of their weight when they are cooked and there are great uses for the shells. If you are not cooking your shrimp in the shells, peel them and freeze the shells. Next time you want to make a poaching liquid, simply use the shells instead of fish parts. This makes a great tasting poaching liquid that is quick, easy and on-hand.
Shrimp is delicious with the simplest of preparations. One of the easiest is to sauté in a little olive oil, add a little garlic, a dash of white wine, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and you have a fabulous meal great alone or over rice or pasta.
Our top 20 picks for out-of-this-world shrimp are:
10. Shrimp Remoulade
12. Spanish Paella
17. Ginger Shrimp