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Some Chinese shrimp dishes like the spicy garlic shrimp is served with the shell still on but head removed. Since the shell was on during cooking, the seasoning is all over it.

Are you supposed to eat the whole shrimp with the shell or removed the shell and only eat the meat? I usually taste the seasoning on the shell and then peel it away to eat the meat only.

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This depends partially on the cooking technique and the shrimp variety/size (=> thickness of the shell).

If the shrimp is deep fried the shell can turn crispy and is super fun to eat. However, if boiled, the shells are chewy and extremely unpleasant - in this case you have to peel them.

I am not familiar with the spicy garlic shrimp, but you can just try if the shell is crunchy, is pleasant to eat, and does not require excessive painful chewing - go for it, if not return to your old practice of pealing it and just licking the flavoring of the shells.

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The shells are edible (no harm would come to you) but unpleasant. You're supposed to remove the shell and eat the shrimp. If no no one is looking I'll suck on the shells because they do have nice flavor. If you can save a decent sized pile of them, you can make a pretty serviceable broth by boiling them for a couple of minutes, but that is usually done with raw shells.

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You're supposed to eat the shrimp with chopsticks, picking one up from the platter, bite off a piece if they're large, chewing up the whole thing, and swallowing only the meat and spitting out the shells as politely as you can on the table. I'm going to guess that if you are served shrimp prepared in this way, the shrimp are probably large. The purpose of this method of preparation is to cook the shrimp without toughing it up.

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