How to Clean Whole Shrimp


The process of cleaning shrimp is as important as the way you cook it. Let us look at the steps involved in cleaning a whole shrimp.

Required Tools and Materials

Start by gathering the necessary equipment and utilities.

  • plastic bag
  • colander
  • gloves (optional)
  • shrimp
  • plastic toothpick

Steps Involved in Cleaning the Shrimp

rinsing the shrimp: The first step is to thaw the shrimp. Use warm water. Do not use a microwave to thaw the shrimp because you might end up cooking it!

removing the unwanted parts: Hold the shrimp in the middle section. Hold the head and pull it. Take out any other parts that will not be required for cooking. You can also take out the feet. These are underneath the shrimp. They look similar to grass. Continue cleaning the shrimp by removing its tail. Discard the outer shell as well. Some people like to keep the shell on and so discarding or retaining the shell is up to you. The same holds good for the tail also. Put the discarded substances in the plastic bag, secure it tightly and dispose it.

removing the veins: The vein looks like a dark string in the back of the shrimp. You can use a toothpick to take the vein out. A knife will also do the job. If this is too difficult, get a deveiner to do it for you. If possible, have it removed while buying the shrimp.

wash thoroughly: Put the shrimp in the colander bowl. Rinse it with cool water. This step is necessary to eliminate any leftover feet or other undesirable pieces. After cleaning the shrimp, keep it in a separate bowl.

Other Methods to Clean Shrimp

Here is another method you could try to clean a whole shrimp.

  • Take a couple of bowls of ice. The first bowl can be used to store the pre-peeled shrimps. The other bowl of ice can be used for the skinned shrimp. Grab the shrimp with both hands. Place your thumb beneath the point where the head terminates. Press your thumb deeper until the shell comes off.
  • Continue this movement all the way around. Pull the shell off carefully. Take your time doing this in order to ensure that the meat does not disintegrate. You can take out the tail or leave it if you prefer it that way.  The presence of the tail does not affect the taste of the meat.
  • Get a knife and make a small cut as you are cleaning the shrimp. Cut from the tail up to the vein of the shrimp. Use the knife to remove the vein. The vein has to be removed because leaving it on will make the shrimp taste very bitter. You can use the knife to pull it out or use your fingers.

Tips and Warnings

Keep the following tips and warning in mind while cleaning your shrimp.

  • Be very careful while using the knife.
  • When prying off the parts, try to be firm but gentle. Too much force might damage the meat.
  • There are stores that sell cleaned and peeled shrimp.
  • When cleaning shrimp, always take note of the recipe you are making. This way, you will know exactly what to take out and what to leave on. For instance, some recipes call for the head to be present. Some Asian cuisines leave the head on. There are also African and European meals that call for the head to remain with the body. Those who have tasted the head say it is one of the most sumptuous parts of the shrimp. So, understand the requirements of the recipe and then, clean the shrimp accordingly.