Everyone loves shrimp. Instead of serving plain cold shrimp with cocktail sauce, why not mix it up a bit and make something extra special? With only a little extra effort, you can provide your guests with a shrimp appetizer they will remember.
When buying your shrimp, get the freshest you can. Live shrimp are the freshest you can get; if you cannot get live shrimp, look for raw, whole, frozen shrimp. The shell protects the meat from damage and drying out. Feel the bag of shrimp. Do the frozen shrimp shift in the bag? If it is a single frozen block, put it down and walk away. This is a sign of thawing and refreezing. While it may be more convenient to buy frozen shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined, don’t do it. You lose flavor and texture by going the easy route. You can figure that one pound of raw shrimp in their shells will give you about half a pound of peeled and cooked shrimp. If you must buy thawed shrimp at the grocery store, they only keep a couple of days, so use them immediately.
Deveining is not really necessary, but it looks nicer. In the case of larger shrimp, removing this long dark strip (actually the digestive tract) removes grit and dirt that you may be able to taste. Do your deveining before cooking. If you are stuffing the shrimp, you can do this when you cut the slit into the shrimp for stuffing. You can actually devein shrimp while leaving the shell intact if you wish to make a recipe calling for shrimp in the shell.
Recipe for Stuffed Shrimp
- 1 pound 12–16 count shrimp, tails on, peeled and deveined
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
- 1 teaspoon cardamom or coriander
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 ounces panko crumbs
- 2 fresh eggs
- 2 Tablespoons water or milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 quarts peanut oil
How to Make It
Cut a slit down the back of each shrimp three-quarters of the way through the meat.
Mix cheeses, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, coriander, or cardamom, salt and pepper until it is smooth. In another bowl, mix the panko with your remaining teaspoon of oregano and some black pepper.
Whisk the eggs with the water or milk.
Stuffing the shrimp is easier if you use your fingers. Put about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the cut you made in each shrimp. Smooth out the top where the mixture comes out of the shrimp and let them chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the cheese mixture set.
Dredge the chilled shrimp in cornstarch, dip them in the egg mixture, and dredge in the panko crumbs.
Fry the stuffed shrimp in 2 quarts of hot peanut oil heated to 365 degrees Fahrenheit in batches of 4 to 6. Use a mesh basket to remove fried shrimp from the oil after about 90 seconds. Do not overcook them.