I love prawns as they cook real fast, taste good, and are relatively cheap. The prawn heads are a real treasure as they can give soups a very rich flavour. Most of the time I will be using peeled prawns as they were a lot easier to eat. To me, the perfect peeled prawn must be de-veined – i.e. the gastrointestinal tract of the prawn should be removed. De-veining prawns is definitely not essential but it certainly make the prawns look a lot more prettier, don’t you think so? ;)
There are two general methods out there to de-vein the prawn, first is cutting a slit with a knife while the second is to use a toothpick to pull the tract out. However, both methods can only be used after the prawn is peeled, and they are not exactly very easy to pull off.
So – I can’t remember how – I’ve found a method which allows me to peel and de-vein the prawn almost at the same time – just by using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. Here’s how:
|1) Grab a prawn and twist off the head.||2) The prawn heads can be rinsed and used to cook seafood stock.|
|3) Grab a pair of kitchen scissors and position it right in the middle of the prawn back.||4) Start cutting through the shell.|
|5) Cut all the way till you reach the tail.||6) The shell will now come off very easily.|
|7) Like this!||8) Grab the tail and give it a sharp, tight pull and the whole shell will come right out.|
|9) So now our prawn is peeled!||10) The scissors should have made a slit on the prawn's back, exposing the gastrointestinal tract. Use your finger to pull it off.|
|11) Voila! A peeled and de-veined prawn!||12) And now your prawns are ready to be cooked!|
Here are some peeling and de-veining tips:
- I find it most effective and time-efficient when I work assembly-line-style: peel all the prawn heads off first; cut the shells; then peel and de-vein them.
- Use fresh prawns so that the flesh is firm but still gives way under the kitchen scissors. I’ve not tried this method with cooked prawns – but most of the time I just peel the cooked ones with my hands.
- If you want to butterfly the prawns, leave the tale intact when you cut the shell. After de-veining, use a small knife to cut the slit deeper.
Tips on cooking prawns:
- I always marinate the prawns with a little salt first for about 5 to 10 minutes, rinse the salt off then pat them dry before cooking them. It gets rid of a little of the fishy smell and draws a little moisture out of the prawns, making the flesh firmer and more chewy. You can also marinate with a little rice wine (or sake) before cooking, but I usually don’t bother…
- Prawns cook real fast, so cook them only when you are ready to serve and take them out the moment they are pink all over.
Happy peeling and de-veining!