How to Saute Shrimp

This tasty beloved shellfish cooks up quick. 

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Quick-Cooking Shrimp

Shrimp are a crowd-pleaser and a great protein for any night of the week, because they cook up quick and can be used in all sorts of dishes. They come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from small to jumbo. There are no hard-and-fast rules for sauteing — any size shrimp can be used. 

 

By Mindy Fox

Select Your Shrimp

Sold fresh or frozen, shrimp may have the shell on or be preshelled and deveined. The shell-on version, while a bit more work to prepare, tends to be more desirable, as the shell helps the shrimp retain flavor and texture. The peeled and deveined sort is less work, but more expensive. Either way, shrimp should have a fresh, light saltwater scent, and they should be firm and free from black spots or yellowing.

Save Your Shells

If you are shelling your own shrimp, save the shells, keeping them frozen until ready to use. You can later gently simmer them in clam juice or chicken broth, cut with a bit of water, to create a nice broth for a soup, sauce or risotto.   

Shell Your Shrimp

To shell and devein shrimp, simply remove the shell starting near the legs and pull it outward and around the shrimp. Place the shrimp on a cutting board and, with a sharp paring knife, cut a shallow incision along the curve of the back to expose the digestive tract. If the tract is clear, you can leave it as is. If it is black or brown, it contains digestive matter and should be removed; simply use the tip of your knife to separate it from the shrimp, then discard. The tail can be left on or gently pulled off, as desired.

Saute Technique

To saute the shrimp, heat a knob of butter or 1 or 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted or the oil is hot but not smoking, add the shrimp, arranging them in a single layer without crowding the pan. Cook the shrimp in batches, rather than overlapping or piling them up, which will cause uneven cooking. Allow the shrimp to cook 1 to 2 minutes without disturbing them, then turn them over and continue to cook until the shrimp are opaque and are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more for large shrimp. 

Ready to Serve

Season the shrimp to taste with salt and pepper, then immediately transfer them to serving plates to avoid overcooking. Finely chopped garlic or shallots can be added while the butter or oil is heating, and you can add fresh herbs and/or a splash of white wine or chicken broth halfway through the cooking process, if you like, to add flavor and dimension to your dish. Serve sauteed shrimp warm or at room temperature, with rice or vegetables, or in pastas or salads. You'll need 1 to 1 1/4 pounds shrimp to feed 4 eaters. Now that you've learned the technique, try making Tyler Florence's Sauteed Shrimp.

Get the Recipe: Sauteed Shrimp

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