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Burning Question: Is It Really Necessary to Devein Shrimp?



If you've peeled your own shrimp (and saved the shells for stock) at home recently, you may have encountered the quandary of whether or not to devein the shrimp. While most recipes call for shrimp to be peeled and deveined (removed of its intestinal tract), there are dissenters, like our very own PartySugar, who has learned from the Spanish that it's completely unnecessary to devein shrimp. So what's the real story?

It depends on the type of shrimp. When cooking with smaller shrimp that have a translucent-hued tract, deveining is unnecessary. Larger shrimp and jumbo prawns often have a dark, sandy intestinal tract. You won't fall ill from eating jumbo prawns if these aren't removed; however, it's recommended that you remove them, not only for cosmetic reasons, but also to avoid affecting the shrimp's clean taste.

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derpderp derpderp 2 years 32 weeks
nope. nope. nope. ALWAYS remove the vein. ALWAYS. It's just basic human courtesy to not ask your guests/patrons to eat poop.
3 years 20 weeks
hmmm, been racking my brains on this anagram by Anonymous could it be 'and I date shite' ?
ngocnguyen ngocnguyen 4 years 8 weeks
I devein when it's bigger prawns...kind of grosses me out to leave it. After shelling, just run a toothpick through to open and remove, then wash or wipe it out.
4 years 9 weeks
My vote is for "de-veining." Now that term is really a misnomer, as this is actually the digestive tract of the critter. My reasoning is that the gut certainly may contain bacterial cultures...and why take a chance?
4 years 40 weeks
Ok, eleinavein. Whatever you say. Obviously the anonymous above knows how to pretend to be intelligent. Only a loser would only post comments to argue.
5 years 2 days
my first time i cook fresh prawns n i just cook them,... almost there... they are removed and deveined by..he who must not be named.. does that count as real deveining??
luckykarma luckykarma 5 years 5 weeks
OMG Anonymous, get a grip. Devein your "bivalves and crustaceans" and leave people alone that choose to leave it in. Is it your problem if they want to eat it that way?
5 years 17 weeks
"ever cut a clam in half? There is definitely some funky intestinal stuff in there." Sure I have... but your term "funky intestinal stuff" is hardly technical. When you slice open a calm you are slicing a number of organs which, if one looks at the anatomy of a bivalve (clam in this instance), you will find it's main components are the gill. mantle, posterior adductor and anterior adductor muscles, heart, foot, siphon, palps, and yes, a small portion of intestine (approx 1/2 a cm long). Quite small when compared to the length of the intestinal track of a prawn which could be 7cm or longer, with a much wider diameter. And again, these bivalves (clams) sustain themselves on plankton and the such, not dead animals. Undigested decaying animal remains left in the longer and wider digestive system of a shrimp are vastly different than undigested remains of plankton in the much smaller system of a bivalve.
POPSUGAR-Food POPSUGAR-Food 5 years 17 weeks
Anonymous, ever cut a clam in half? There is definitely some funky intestinal stuff in there.
5 years 17 weeks
"If you think about, though, you're also eating the tract of oysters, clams, and mussels, because none of those get deveined!" You are now comparing bivalves with crustaceans and they are not the same at all. Not in texture, not in taste, not in what they feed on and certainly not in how they digest and expel food. While we have all hear the comparison of shrimp as cockroaches of the sea; they are nicknamed that for a reason. They are scavengers and will feed on most anything dead. Bi valves stick to algae and plankton. And here is another big caveat for your argument, when bivalves close their shell (and we have all been warned not to eat open shell mollusks) the contractions of the adductor muscles, which "clap" the shells together, pushing most of the water out of the mantle cavity and forcibly eject the feces and the pseudofeces out.
POPSUGAR-Food POPSUGAR-Food 5 years 17 weeks
If you think about, though, you're also eating the tract of oysters, clams, and mussels, because none of those get deveined!
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 5 years 17 weeks
IMO If shrimp is not deveined it's unsightly, unsanitary, and literally distasteful. If in someone served it, I wouldn't be rude & not eat it, but I might make up an excuse that I wasn't hungry, etc. I really don't eat shrimp very much anymore. It's a scavenger. I may let you twist my arm if it's a nice CLEAN shrimp coctail. ;)
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 5 years 17 weeks
Yeah, I just feel kinda squicked out by eating the un-de-veined shrimp.
Dagne Dagne 5 years 17 weeks
I don't know how you can eat shrimp that visibly has that black/gray tract. The sound and sensation from the grittiness upon impact with the molars sends a chill down my spine. Terrible.
5 years 17 weeks
"I've eaten a lot of undevined shrimp since then, and nothing bad has ever happened to me." This is a fallacious argument if ever I read one. I have driven a car for 25 years and have never gotten in an accident. Should I no longer purchase insurance? To publish an article that states, "You won't fall ill from eating jumbo prawns if these aren't removed," is irresponsible; when, in fact, one could - as the research confirms there can be plenty of bacterium present in the intestinal tract. So why tempt fate. Laziness? Taking the few extra minutes to de-vein is insurance to help avoid any unwanted illness that it also removes the possibility of any any sandy "grains" that could detract from the texture of the food. So while the decision to not de-vein is based on circumstantial ad hominem arguments (since x is true for me, x must be true for everyone); the decision to de-vein remains based on research and fact. Just remember what 'and I hesitated' anagrams to...
Soniabonya Soniabonya 5 years 17 weeks
I've always deveined my shrimp. Something about vein and intenstinal tract makes me squirm. It may be time consuming, but it's for my peace of mind.
partysugar partysugar 5 years 17 weeks
Well, when I lived in Spain nobody worried about deveining the shrimp. And my Spanish boyfriend laughed at me when I told him you couldn't eat that part! So, I've eaten a lot of undevined shrimp since then, and nothing bad has ever happened to me.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 5 years 17 weeks
same as mamasitamali - I got my shrimp - peeled and devined already. Made my life a lot easier. :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 5 years 17 weeks
I have never deveined. There isnt any need really
5 years 17 weeks
Well, there is also another major consideration. How fresh are the shrimp and long do you intend to keep them? All in all, I would disagree with PartySugar for a number of reasons. The Spanish that she may have "learned from" could have been using very fresh shrimp, thus, less of a need to de-vein. But if you look at the results from the 2008 research, 'Bacterial community structure in intestine of the white shrimp,' it examined the bacteria found in shrimp intestines. Results showed that the Firmicutes group and other bacterium, identified as Shewanella, Pantoea, Aranicola, Pseudomonas and Vibrio are also present. Most all of these proteobacteria have the ability to grow at low temperatures and can cause food spoilage. Now, as I live in Miami and find myself in the Keys frequently getting freshly caught 'Key West Pinks' right from the boats, perhaps I could get away without de-veining. But take a look at where some of your "fresh, frozen shrimp" really come from. 87% of the U.S. shrimp supply is imported (2003). Seventy percent of all shrimp imported into the U.S. comes from Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Ecuador. So come on, let's throw that term "fresh" out the window. How quickly do you believe these exporters whisk their catch to your local market? Be real. And let's face it, they are not traveling first class. They have plenty of time to thaw on their journey - perhaps many times over. This lends itself to just the type of environment that facilitates bacteria breeding. Then of course your local market defrosts them again on the beautiful bed of crushed ice - for a bit of time (again not truly frozen) until you ask for your 2 lbs of "fresh" shrimp. So really... don't you want to remove that bursting trail of bacteria before you begin melting that butter for your scampi?
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 5 years 17 weeks
I agree with juliefischer!
Smacks83 Smacks83 5 years 17 weeks
"PartySugar, who has learned from the Spanish that it's completely unnecessary to devein shrimp" Can Party explain it? I'm not bashing, just really curious (it would save time not to have to devein).
juliefischer juliefischer 5 years 17 weeks
To me, vein=poop and that grosses me out. I always take out the vein.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 5 years 17 weeks
very interesting! I buy my shrimp deveined already :)