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I don't know the correct answer to your question (so sorry), but I did just want to add that whatever the correct cooking method is, be sure to add lots of seasoning to your water while cooking! Some people swear by Old Bay, others (like my dad) need their clovy-herby spices.
HalfPint is a trusted home cook.
Shell and devein the shrimp. Leave on the tail, it helps with dipping later. Bring a pot of water with aromatics that K_squared mentioned, like Old Bay, half a lemon, whole peppercorn, etc, to a full boil. Add shrimp, give it a good stir. When the water comes back to a boil, drain shrimp into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and serve with sauce.
Sam is a trusted home cook.
I leave the shell on. And boil with a 1/2 tsp of Zatarines liquid shrimp boil.
Then remove and chill and with ice bed/ or 'fridge for a couple of hours. Peel and serve. Shrimp cocktails should have chilled shrimp. And IMHO, peeled before serving, except for maybe a little tail on the end.
Also..most shrimp is frozen, unless you live on the coast and get super fresh.
This means the stuff you see thawed on ice in landlock places has been taken out of a frozen bag and placed on ice for display and immediate use---sometimes sitting there unsold for day or two.
The frozen bags give you better control---thaw them in cool water with a table spoon of salt and use those. Raw, shell on, and thaw/brine, and boil. Another twist is put the zatarines liquid in the thawing boil with salt and lemon..and then broil them in the oven..chill then peal them for shrimp cocktails.
Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.
I'm with Sam. The shells add a lot of flavor. (When we get shrimp with heads, we leave the heads on, too. Then we just dump the cooled shrimp onto a pile of newspapers and have at them with some spicy cocktail sauce. Like this: http://www.food52.com/recipes...)
I'm also a huge fan of Zatarain's crab boil--it comes in spice pouches as well as liquid. It really flavors the shrimp.
June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
Boil the water, never the shrimp! Season the water, bring to a rollicking, frolicking boil. Add the shrimp. Put on the lid and turn off the heat. Set your timer for 5-6 minutes. Drain and stop the cooking by immersing the shrimp briefly in ice water.
Boiling the shrimp generally results in overcooked, rubbery shrimp.
A great trick to impart extra flavor is to make your icebath using your boiling liquid rather than just water and salt. Fill a container to the brim with ice and pour your court bouillon or whatever you use to cook the shrimp over the ice. Then, use that to shock the shrimp. That way, you do not waste the flavor you imparted during the cooking process.
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