There’s so much to love about shrimp: They’re tasty, versatile and quick-cooking. Cruise through the Seafood Department, and you’ll find various types— different sizes and varieties, cooked and uncooked, frozen and fresh. These tips will help you select the right shrimp for any dish and make shopping quick and easy.
Types of Shrimp
Farmed shrimp is often the most affordable option (and worth stocking up on during a big shop). Wild shrimp are more expensive because they are costlier and more time-intensive to catch. While there are many shrimp varieties found around the world, these five are popular choices you’ll find in our Seafood Department.
- Pacific White are the most common type sold in grocery stores. They have a sweet, mild flavour and a firm texture. They’re an all-purpose choice for cooking; try them in pasta dishes and stir-fries.
- Black Tiger are related to Pacific White and offer a similar flavour and texture, but they are often larger. Big ones are excellent for skewering and grilling and make terrific shrimp cocktails.
- Freshwater are even larger than Black Tiger and come in a range of colours, from pinkish brown to bluish gray. They taste and cook up like Black Tiger shrimp, so they’re good in the same sorts of recipes.
- Argentinean are wild-caught in the southern Atlantic Ocean. They have dense, tender flesh and a buttery, almost lobster-like, flavour. Try them grilled like lobster tails and served with melted butter.
- Coldwater, as their name implies, live in super chilly water. These wild-caught shrimp are small and sold cleaned and cooked. They are firm, with a delicate, sweet flavour.
Sizes and Counts
Packages of shrimp are often labelled with a number, such as 16/25, which refers to the number of pieces you get in 454 g (1 lb). It’s always a range because shrimp don’t all grow to the exact same size. Remember: The smaller the numbers, the larger the shrimp.
Once thawed, cooked shrimp are ready to eat. They are ideal for cold preparations that don’t require further cooking. They make an easy and elegant appetizer when served with Creamy Tarragon Sauce or used in Shrimp Salad Rice Wrapper Rolls. Use raw shrimp for any recipe that requires cooking.
How to Prep
If you buy fresh shrimp at the fish counter, keep them refrigerated and use them up by the best-before date on the label. If you choose frozen, thaw them by placing the package in a bowl overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, place the unopened package (or a sealed leakproof plastic container) of shrimp in a bowl; cover with cold water and let stand, changing the water every 30 minutes until the shrimp are thawed. The good news is you usually don’t have to bother thawing at all — for many recipes, frozen shrimp can go straight into the pan.
Want to save a couple of extra seconds when you’re peeling? Buy zipper back shrimp: The back of each shell has been sliced open and it just slips off with a quick pull! You can also toss them — shells and all — into our Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya and peel at the table. The shells will add a little extra flavour to the dish.Another option is to freeze the shells to make stock.
Shrimp is a winner when you’re short on time.Quick cooking methods, such as sautéing, work best. You don’t need to get fancy, either — just add shrimp to a hot pan with butter and toss until it’s cooked through. Finish with lots of garlic and parsley, and you’ll want to eat them straight out of the pan. You can also turn shrimp into a meal like Spanish-Style Shrimp and serve them over rice. And of course, nothing beats shrimp on the grill. Depending on their size, you can use one skewer or two to make flipping simple.
Checking for Doneness
Raw shrimp are bluish grey, translucent and feel limp to the touch. After a few minutes of cooking, they turn bright pink and lose their translucence, the meat becomes firm and plump, and the tails curl. It only takes a few minutes to get sweet, juicy and tender results, so make sure you don’t overcook them.
Tip: If you’re eating shrimp with your hands, leave the tail shell on so it functions as a handle.
Best Shrimp Dishes
The next time your family needs dinner right away, make a speedy stir-fry; try our Thai-Style Shrimp & Chicken Stir-Fry or substitute shrimp for some or all of the meat called for in another recipe. You can improvise, too — add shrimp to your choice of veggies and a store-bought sauce, such as teriyaki or green curry. Cold out? Warm up with Thai-Style Shrimp Soup with Rice. A no-fuss skillet bake, like Mediterranean Shrimp with Feta Cheese, makes a satisfying, filling meal tossed with pasta and served with an easy salad kit from the Produce Department.
When friends drop in unannounced, invite them to stay for dinner. With a bag of shrimp in the freezer and a short ingredient list, you can whip up Alfredo Linguine with Shrimp & Spinach (your guests will be calling you chef). Spicy-sweet lovers can grill up Chipotle Shrimp, Mango & Sweet Onion Kabobs. Or if late-afternoon drinks are the occasion, you can put together Zesty Shrimp Flatbread in a flash — you won’t even have to turn the oven on!