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I am making 12 pounds of BBQ shrimp. I want to cook them in their shells but I know the vein can be offensive to some.

I have asked my fish monger about deveining the shrimp but leaving the shells on and he said it isn't possible. I've tried to do it but I was not successful. Does anyone have a good way to remove the vein but leave the shell on? Is it really so horrible to serve them without removing the vein? And, yes, I know that the vein is the shrimp's digestive tract.

asked by ourlastsupper over 3 years ago
10 answers 2022 views
added over 3 years ago

Sometimes you can see the tip of the tract poking out of the front end of the shrimp. I've been able to carefully pull most of it out of the body before, but it tends to break toward the bottom, leaving the bit of stuff that collects at the end of the tail. It's not going to kill you, though. I would try this method and enlist a friend to help you—deveining 12 pounds of shrimp is a lot of work!

added over 3 years ago

If you have yet to buy your shrimp, look into EZ peel shrimp. The shrimp comes with the shell and tail intact, but the back is split open and the vein removed. This would allow you to peel 12 lbs easily. Here's a link...


added over 3 years ago

Or actually cook them and serve them in the shell. But without the vein. Sorry misread what you were looking for.


pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

You can actually do that with a sharp paring knife, but as annana suggested with the heads off you can really just pull most of it out with your fingers. You just feel for the top of the sand vein and then yank it out. You'll get most of it but maybe not all. Still, shrimp cooked in the shell taste way better---and for more reasons than I'll go into now.

added over 3 years ago

ananna and pierino are giving the best directions. A previous career, many eons ago, had me being a diver for a well-known lab and what I did was collected lobsters. Along the way I learned a lot about fish, shell-fish, what they eat and how they clear what they eat. A little shrimp vein isn't bad given what they have been eating. And the shells are a gift from the sea gods.


Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Personalty, I'd rather put up with veins in shrimp than shrimp without shells, or even split shells, for BBQ shrimp.

I have some seen some time consuming techniques using a skewer and making a small hole slit and wrapping the vein around the skewer.

added over 3 years ago

I think just serving them with the vein is fine... sure, you can probably pull a good amount of the vein out, but doing that for twelve pounds worth doesn't sound so fun.

added over 3 years ago

Thanks for the responses! I'm going to leave well enough alone and will not be removing the veins. But I feel like there is a whole group out there saying "Note to self- do not eat at Andra's house." Does not deveining shrimp fall into the same category as washing out your socks in the filter basket of your coffee pot? 'Cause I DON'T do that. Thanks again.

added over 3 years ago

Too late to weigh in? I think you've made the right choice, Andra, given the # of shrimp involved, and if you lose any shrimp-eaters over this, I'll be take to take their share.

I do want to share this: you can cut down the middle of the shell with sharp scissors, then take a sharp knife and make a slit into the meat and pull out the vein. The shell will stay on. This is good to do if you want to marinate the shrimp.

Also, you can brine shrimp before cooking to freshen the taste.

added over 3 years ago

Thanks Nora! I appreciate you reinforcing my decision. The shrimp will be very fresh, which is another reason why I want to cook them in their shells. I really think they are best that way. I am curious about the brining though. I will give that a try sometime.