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Yesterday I tried to prepare shrimp for the first time. Basically the idea was to prepare shrimp and pasta. I bought frozen shrimp and followed the recipe. It was something like this:

Heat olive oil and fry garlic.
Add frozen shrimps and fry them until they become soft.
Add cooking cream + Parmesan or Parmesan cream.
...

The problem was that I fried the shrimp for 30 minutes and they never got soft enough. They were pretty hard. Obviously something went wrong.

What is the best way to prepare shrimps?

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You should use fresh, unfrozen shrimp if you have access to them. They are MUCH better than the cheaper frozen options and you'll notice the difference immediately. @ESultanik's advice on cooking is very solid. –  jkraybill Aug 4 '11 at 7:14
    
@jkraybill is correct, however, if you don't live in a place that has access to fresh (preferably live) seafood then it may be better to actually buy frozen shrimp. That's because almost all frozen shrimp is frozen immediately after it is caught, sometimes actually on the boat (or at the farm, if they are farmed). Some markets that sell "fresh" shrimp are actually just selling frozen shrimp that they thawed. Sometimes those shrimp can even have been re-frozen a number of times, and there's no way to know. If you are buying bagged frozen shrimp, chances are it was only frozen once. –  ESultanik Aug 4 '11 at 11:51
    
@ESultanik - absolutely. Good seafooders / butchers should be able to answer you honestly, but they don't always know for sure. –  jkraybill Aug 8 '11 at 3:58
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1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Shrimp are extremely lean and have very little connective tissue, which means that the longer they cook the harder they get. Fresh shrimp, for example, only need to be fried for about one minute per side (depending on their size). This makes cooking frozen shrimp very difficult: By the time the outside has thawed and is perfectly cooked, the inside will still likely be frozen. If you cook them long enough for the inside to thaw and cook (e.g., 30 minutes), the outside will likely be extremely hard.

I would recommend thawing the shrimp before cooking, for example, by leaving them in the refrigerator overnight. Another quick way to thaw them is to place them in a bowl and run a stream of cold water over them in your sink. Next, thoroughly dry the shrimp, which will help prevent splatter and promote the Maillard reaction. Only cook the shrimp until they turn slightly pink and begin to curl on one side, then flip. Depending on the size, this should be no more than, say, two minutes per side. Then proceed with the remainder of the recipe. Also take into account if the recipe calls for simmering the shrimp in the cream sauce; if so, then this will continue to cook the shrimp and you will not need to fry them as long.

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Thanks a lot for this answer. I will give it a shot again in a day or two and will let you know how it turned out. –  Husein Roncevic Aug 2 '11 at 13:16
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