How to cook shrimp: The best way to bake, steam and grill shrimp

Cooking with your favorite crustaceans doesn't have to be intimidating.
Al Roker's Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Corn on the Cob
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/ Source: TODAY
By Katie Jackson

Shrimp is a seafood seen on many menus but some home cooks are still intimated to make it at home It's definitely time to change that.

Not only do these cost-effective crustaceans pack a serious protein punch, they're also compatible with most cooking methods, making them a win-win for cooks at any level of expertise. TODAY Food recently spoke about shrimp with chef Guido Horst Jendrytzko who currently manages a staff of 250 cooks on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship. Jendrytzko and his team feed thousands of travelers each day — and there are lots of shrimp served onboard. He’s also cooked for the military, Olympic athletes and even Queen Elizabeth II.

He loves cooking with shrimp because it’s versatile (i.e. great for crowds) and it's also quick. “A good steak, takes a minimum of 10-15 minutes to cook," said Jendrytzko. "With shrimp, you can have a nice meal in just 6-7 minutes.”

If you have 10 minutes to spare, and a source of heat (or acid) here are some foolproof ways to prepare shrimp.

Where to buy shrimp

Always ask your fishmonger about the freshest catch of the day. Getty Images stock

Freshness is key. “With shrimp, people will immediately identify if there’s something wrong,” said Jendrytzko. He recommended getting to the fish market or grocery store as early in the day as you can. He thinks the biggest mistake home cooks make is using frozen shrimp and defrosting it in the microwave or boiling water. That strips the shrimp's flavor and it will never come back.

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Whether you peel your shrimp, devein them or remove the tails before cooking depends on what you're making — leave tails on as handles for finger food, for example. There's a strong argument for always cooking shrimp in its shell, too.

How to microwave shrimp

Microwaves are great for reheating leftovers but when it comes to raw seafood, microwaves are not the way to go. "Don’t do it," said Jendrytzko. Microwaves use radiation, not conduction. So basically, the shrimp will cook from the inside out, resulting in an unpleasant rubbery texture.

How to sauté shrimp

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Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat until the oil makes nice waves in the pan. According to Jendrytzko, the ideal temperature for cooking shrimp is around 360 degrees. Add shrimp (as many as will fit comfortably in one layer with no overlap) and flip them around for a few minutes until they start to curl into a tight C-shape and the outsides are pink. The insides should be opaque, not translucent. Depending on the size of the shrimp, this will take about 4-6 minutes.

How to bake shrimp

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Tear off a 16-inch sheet of aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a spoon, arrange marinated or seasoned shrimp (and vegetables if desired) in the center of the foil and top with a pat of butter, or more marinade. The shrimp should be in one even layer. Fold the foil, forming a tight seal, into a packet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the packet from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Be careful of hot steam.

How to grill shrimp

Simply put five or six shrimp on a food-safe skewer so they won't fall through the grill grates. When the charcoal is ready (but there is no flame), or your grill is at least 350 degrees, add your shrimp. Cook for 4-7 minutes, flipping or rotating them occasionally. They'll be done when the outside is pink and the inside is opaque.

How to fry shrimp

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Peel your shrimp and season as desired. Coat seasoned shrimp in a mixture of flour and egg (dipping first in the flour, then egg, then flour once more). Jendrytzko likes to then wrap the shrimp in potato "spaghetti" made using a Spirelli spiral slicer. This adds a unique and flavorful potato chip-style crunch. Deep fry each batch of four to five shrimp for 3 minutes. Serve with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce.

Now that you've mastered the basics, try these delicious shrimp recipes.

Best shrimp recipes

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Sharron Manuel
Firecracker Shrimp Tacos
BBQ Shrimp Skewers