Japanese people are picky about seafood, and there are clever cooking tips to use its flavor.
The shrimp preparation is almost common sense for the Japanese, if you meet a Japanese who doesn’t know how to clean shrimps, he/she may be not good a cook. Haha.
(Yet, I have heard that professionals wash shrimps with sake and salt only. )
If you are struggling to prepare shrimps, especially for removing fishy flavor, here’s a Japanese hack to remove that shrimp smell or taste after cooked.
I do this every time we have Shrimp and it always works.
Make sure you have a potato or corn starch before beginning.
Remove A Vein (Actually Not A Vein)
A vein referred to here is a thin, black (or blue) string you see down the shrimp’s back.
It is not a vein actually, although you call it removing a vein = deveining.
It is the intestinal tract of the shrimp. Therefore, what the shrimp ate is digested and contained. Since it also contains sand, and this is the cause of an unpleasant texture and fishy smell.
But it makes sense to call a black string “a vein” even in this site because it is commonly called a vein.
Anyway, even though you are very busy, don’t skip removing the vein.
Sometimes you see another string on the ventral side, it is the abdominal nerve cord, which is the bundle of nerves. In humans, it is the spinal cord. It has nothing to do with the taste.
Peel shrimp shells if needed.
But just for the shrimp cocktail, it can be better to peel shells after boiled. Shells help shrimp meat will be shrunken, and also it is easy to peel after boiling.
If you are a Japanese cooking geek, you may already know that the Japanese use a skewer (or a toothpick) to remove the vein from the back of shrimps.
However, I don’t do it that way, because it’s a pain in the neck. I have to find the just-right position to pull the vein perfectly without tore off.
I use a small paring knife. In this way, easy and faster.
- Hold the knife a half-inch from the tip to prevent deep-cut.
- Hold a shrimp down on the cutting board stretching with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger gently.
- Cut (technically slide the tip of the knife) along the outer edge of the shrimp’s back, about 1/8 – 1/4 inch deep. It is not butterflying, so try not to cut so deep.
- Pull a black string out the runs along right under the surface of the back with the tip of your knife. Relax and pull a small part of the vein out with just the tip of the knife, and gently keep pulling the rest of it.
I use a piece of aluminum foil instead of a cutting board, so it is easy to clean the mess. Wrap the mess and throw away.
*I used prepared shrimps this time, so I am deveining shrimp’s “vein” in the picture.
Put shrimps in a bowl.
Add salt and potato or corn starch.
- SALT…1 teaspoon per 8 – 10 shrimps
- STARCH…2 tablespoons per 8 – 10 shrimps
But you don’t have to follow the ratio exactly. Too much is better than less.
Wash shrimps well rubbing and mixing around. Don’t add water yet.
You can feel shrimps are getting slimy and see the starch turning dirty, this is the cause of fishy smell.
Rinse well until the water will not turn dirty color.
Why Potato Starch & Salt???
Potato (corn) starch can remove invisible dirt and bacteria from shrimps because of the fine particle.
Salt removes fish smell inside of seafood using osmotic pressure and also keep a fresh texture even after shrimp cooked.
How To Boil Shrimps Perfectly
Shrimp meat is very easy to over-cook (this is one of the reasons for boiling shrimps with shells on ), and then shrimps get over-cooked, it will lose fresh texture and flavor.
Bring water boiled in a pot, add salt ( much as you feel salty), and Japanese sake (an optional).
When a few shrimps start floating in 2-4 minutes, it is the sign to turn off the stove.
Do not wait for all shrimps float.
Drain them into a strainer and let them cool.
Do not cool them with ice or water. Cooked Shrimps absorb excess water and get watery.
Do not try to cook shrimps all through in a pot. Use remaining heat.
If you are not sure they are cooked or not, cut one of them and check inside after few minutes later.
It inside is white, it means “cooked”.
If it is rawish, pour boiled water on shrimps or cook them for seconds to a minute.
- If you put it in boiling water, the water will turn white in a few minutes, and then the shrimp will float. Drain them into a strainer immediately.
- Do not take time to drain water.
- It’s better to grab the whole pot and drain it all into a colander than to take it out with a skimming ladle.
- Between medium to Large size shrimps, cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.
How To Make Shrimps Straight For Deep Fry
Shrimp will be round when heated, right? In Japanese cuisines such as Tempura shrimp and Ebi Furai, we sometimes want to finish shrimps straight like restaurants.
It may be Japanese aesthetic, you don’t have to do this…really.
To finish the tempura or deep-fry straight, Make a few 1/3 depth slits into both sides. If it’s not deep enough, shrimp will not be straight, but if it’s too deep, it will cut off.
Hold a shrimp with both hands face to a back, and gently but strongly bent (or push) its back until you feel “Click” with your thumbs.
If bending is not enough, a shrimp will not be straight.