Should You Rinse Shrimp Before Cooking?

Prior to putting the seafood in the pan, should you give them a splash under running water. We asked an expert.

<p>Caitlin Bensel, Food Stylist: Torie Cox</p>

Caitlin Bensel, Food Stylist: Torie Cox

It’s no secret that Southerners love shrimp. These mild flavored, meaty crustaceans are super easy to prepare at home, come fresh off the boats along our shores, and are frequently found on many menus, seaside and inland. But there are just a few things to keep in mind if you're planning to cook shrimp at home.

Meet Our Expert

  • Shawn Matijevich is the lead chef-instructor of online culinary arts and food operations at the Institute of Culinary Education.

Should You Rinse Shrimp?

There is no need to rinse shrimp before cooking it. If you're going to rinse your shrimp, stick with cold water.

Warm water is definitely not the answer, explains Shawn Matijevich, lead chef-instructor of online culinary arts and food operations at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). "Warm water will encourage more bacterial growth and make the shrimp stringy," says Matijevich.

Just remember: Rinsing really is a preference more than an actual need for safety reasons.

Does Rinsing Shrimp Remove the Fishy Smell?

The juices that collect around the shrimp may develop an off smell before the actual flesh of the shrimp do. "Sometimes rinsing the shrimp in cold water will remove the smell," says Matijevich. “Another trick is to soak them for about 20 minutes in a brine of one tablespoon of salt per two cups of water. If they don't smell fresh and clean after coming out of that, then all hope is lost."

Should You Rinse Shrimp After a Brine or Marinade?

No, rinsing shrimp after it's been in a brine or marinade may remove some of the flavor you wanted. If you want a hot sear on the shrimp and need to remove moisture, you can pat the shrimp with a paper towel to remove any liquids before adding them to a pan or grill. However, in most cases, shrimp will cook perfectly even with a little marinade or sauce on them.

Should I Devein Shrimp Before Cooking?

While most people devein shrimp before cooking, Matijevich tells Southern Living it isn't completely necessary. The black vein down the back of shrimp is part of their digestive tract, and while it might not be aesthetically pleasing, there’s no health concerns when it comes to eating it.

"I usually do it before cooking, but you can also do this step after," he says. "There’s really no food safety issue with not doing it; it is more of a preference.”

However, if you do devein shrimp before cooking, you might want to give them a quick rinse to remove any grit that could cling to the outside of the shrimp.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if shrimp has gone bad?

Use your senses. If it smells or looks off, don't risk it. Toss the shrimp.

How long can shrimp be left out?

Shrimp shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours. It’s best to throw away any shrimp that’s been left out for longer than two hours in order to avoid the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Can I refreeze thawed shrimp?

Yes, you can refreeze thawed shrimp, but the texture won’t be as good. "You can't have the temperature of the shrimp between 40 and 140°F for more than four hours," Matijevich says. "Refreezing them will reduce the quality, but it isn't really a safety issue as long as you are handling them properly otherwise—keeping them cold or chilling them rapidly."

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Read the original article on Southern Living.