My boss is awesome. I told him I had this recipe for Tequila Marinated Grilled Shrimp that sounded oh-so-tasty and he hands me $40 and tells me to buy enough shrimp for him, his wife, his two kids and me, and bring it prepared to cook for Monday dinner. I was thrilled and immediately went to the grocery store to buy 3.5 pounds of fresh (relatively speaking) jumbo shrimp.
Now first of all "fresh" jumbo shrimp from the grocery store are usually actually frozen jumbo shrimp that haven't been peeled, deveined or cooked at all. Unless you are lucky and live near an ocean and can actually get freshly caught shrimp from a market you are stuck with the "fresh" frozen ones. So now I have 3.5 lbs. of headless shells as far as I can tell. And no real idea of how to make them into those delicious curls of fluffy white meat with fantails that I always received at restaurants. Little shrimp legs are just icky so I immediately turned to e2 to figure out how to get these tastey little morsels naked. The search was fruitless though! So I took my knowledge that I must devein them, not exactly knowing where that vein was, and a paring knife, and set to stripping dinner.
And now for what you've all been waiting for: How to peel and devein shrimp.
First you must remove the shell of the shrimp. This is easiest if you have a kitchen scissors. I did not and used my paring knife, which managed just fine as well. The shrimp is curled in a little ball. Uncurl it and hold it in one hand with the shell in your palm and the legs facing you. Now take your knife or scissors and cut the shell between the legs from the neck down through the last pair of legs. Do NOT cut all the way through the tail. You want the tail to remain on for aesthetic and practical reasons. I later learned that if you have the scissors you can cut the top of the shell. This is silly because the top of the shell is thick and crunchy and pieces fly everywhere if you try to cut it. It also plain does not work if you only have a knife.
Now to remove the shell. Pull the top pair of legs up and back to remove them from the meat of the shrimp. You can then grasp the shrimp and pull it down, essentially curling the shrimp back up. Keep your finger between the shell and the shrimp meat as you do this to make sure it separates, although this should happen easily. Once you reach the last piece of shell with legs break it away from the tail. There should be just one point on either side that holds this piece to the tail. Congratulations, you have peeled a shrimp! They are not yet edible, though. Now you must devein them.
The vein that you need to remove is in the back of the shrimp. The side opposite of where the legs were. Removing the shell should bare this vein, but if it doesn't no worries. Only two of mine did. If you don't see the vein simply make a very shallow cut from head to tail of the shrimp. Then hold open this cut and you should see a dark vein. Carefully remove this by either pulling it out with your fingers or the knife. If you don't see a dark vein run the tip of your knife gently across the cut and see if you catch the vein. It is not always dark. Sometimes they are tricky and clear.
Finally thoroughly rinse your naked, veinless shrimp. You can also do any other trimming that strikes your fancy to make it look pretty. Joy! You can now enjoy!