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Discover New Realm of Flavors with Fantail Shrimp!

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Fan-tailed shrimp are nothing new, as many of you may have experienced their delightful taste and texture while dining in a fancy restaurant. Along with unveiling several different varieties of shrimp, this article will discuss the fan-tailed type at length and expose you to some delectable shrimp cuisine.

Seafood is indeed a rich source of protein and vitamins. Without the burden of complex fats and carbohydrates, it can provide a good dose of calories. Shrimp are beloved for their amazing flavor and for the fact that you can cook them in any way possible. From grilling to smoking, searing, steaming, baking or even frying, many methods can be used to bring out the best of the shrimp flavor.

A difference in cooking technique can add much variety to a shrimp meal, but the form and type of shrimp used also makes a marked difference. You may have heard of butterfly shrimp, fan-tailed and others. What you don’t hear often are the basic differences among them and how to incorporate each in our routine diet.

What is Fantail Shrimp?

As the name indicates, fantail refers to the fan-shaped tail of the shrimp. The important thing to understand here is that such shrimp are not a separate species but rather a distinct form in which the shrimp are made into.

When you cook shrimp in its original form, it forms a stiff curl which is not typically enjoyable. This is why the shrimp is spread into a fan, which gives it a thin and crispy touch after cooking. You can practically turn any shrimp into fantail, but ideally jumbo shrimp are best used to make a distinct fantail.

Before we get to the preparation of these shrimps and their delicious recipes, it is important to learn all about their basic features.

Features

If you have no time because of a busy daily routine, then store packed fantail shrimp is the right option for you. It has a pre-fanned shape, which doesn’t require any cutting or spreading of the tail. However, you need to be cautious when opting for these, as you can easily confuse them with other varieties of packed shrimp. The following details will help you select the best of the best.

Flavor: Since fan tailed shrimp are the same as any other shrimp, they taste exactly the same. However, due to the reduced thickness and wider span, these shrimps absorb more flavor down to every strand of its fiber. This similarly affects the texture of the shrimp as once it is cooked, it gets crispier and juicier. If you want to enjoy a sharp and strong taste, then you must try fantail shrimp.

Meat: When you look for fantail shrimp, remember the color and appearance of its meat resembles any other shrimp, meaning whitish pink in color. This pinkish color disappears as the shrimps are cooked. The fresher the shrimp, the tastier its meat will be. Fantails have thin cut meat which takes less time to marinate. Whenever you marinate them, remember to cover and then refrigerate.

Shape: The name already tells us much about the shape of these shrimp. The tail is left intact whereas the upper portion is cut and spread into a flat flap, giving it a fan-like outlook ending towards the tail. Be extra careful when dealing with such a shrimp, as they turn quite delicate due to the reduced thickness.

Cooking time: The change in thickness does not drastically affect the cooking time of fan tailed shrimp. A slight decrease in cooking time can, however, be observed. It actually varies from recipe to recipe. The best strategy is to keep track of the time and look for the doneness of the shrimp. As soon as it loses the pink color or turns golden brown during frying, that is your signal to stop right away.

Serving: Depending on the type of meal, you can decide on the serving. If you are cooking an appetizer, 1 to 2 shrimps per serving are enough. For entrees or a main course, either opt for jumbo shrimp or go for 3 to 4 shrimp per serving. For a rustic feel, you can even serve them in a bucket for the whole table!

How to Prepare Fantail Shrimp

If you do not rely on market packed products, then you can surely prepare fantail shrimp at home from fresh jumbo shrimps. When it comes to the fantail, preparation is the most important part of the process and needs more attention than the rest of the steps. The technique is simple and easy, and with little care and understanding, you too can prepare fantail shrimp at home.

The following steps are a must-follow for every fantail shrimp recipe, no matter what type of shrimp you start with.

  1. Clean: The most crucial step is to clean the shrimp before use. For that simply rinse the shrimp under tap water and place them in a colander. Let the water drain out and allow the shrimp to dry before the next step.
  2. Deshell: This step involves the removing of the shell. Keep the tail of the shrimp intact while removing the rest of the shell. This means the hard covering over the shrimp, which has to be removed before fanning the shrimp out.
  3. Devein: This step is mostly used whenever we prepare the shrimp for cooking. You need to remove the vein present in the shrimp without damaging the tail or other parts of it. It is however optional, you can also cook it with the vein if desired.
  4. Carve: Now take a sharp pointed knife and carve a slit on the underside of the shrimp. Spare the tail from any sort of cutting. This cut will split the shrimp into half. Avoid cutting too deep, just slice up to the center of the shrimp and then leave it be.
  5. Spread: Place the carved shrimp over a flat surface with its carved side up and start spreading it gently against the surface. This step will give you fan-shaped shrimp with a tail at the end. Be careful while spreading so you do not stretch it too much.

Precautions

Preparing fantail shrimp looks like quite a simple and easy job. But for those who are not pros at dealing with delicate seafood, it becomes almost impossible to get a nice fantail. Therefore it is essential to keep certain precautions in mind before attempting a fantail. For beginners it is recommended to opt for the readily available fantail shrimps on the market:

  1. Always use a thin, sharp and pointed knife to carve the slit in the shrimp. We all know how delicate shrimp is, if you use an old and rough knife, it might be difficult to carve a well-controlled slit which can ultimately destroy the shape of the shrimp.
  2. Identify the exact position where you need to carve the slit. It is always on the exact underside of the shrimp up to the middle of the shrimp. Do not carve further than that otherwise the whole shrimp will be cut into half.
  3. Once the slit is carved under the shrimp, it is equally important to be cautious while spreading the two halves into a nice and thin fantail. Start spreading the shrimp meat gently on the opposite sides of the shrimp. Do be abrupt in this process, as it can tear the shrimp apart. Be slow and gentle to get the best results.
  4. Finally, once the shrimp are spread into a fantail, softly press them from above to even out the sides.
  5. You need to be equally cautious while cooking fantail shrimp. Whether you are coating them in batter or a marinade, avoid distorting the shape of the fantail created.

Fantail Shrimp Recipe

Chinese Fantail Shrimp

The batter of Chinese style shrimp makes it extra juicy and spicy. In this case the shrimp are first marinated and then dipped into a well-seasoned batter. Then they are fried until golden. Reduce the amount of chili used, as per desired hotness.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 lb. Shrimp, cleaned.

Marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon Ching’s all in one sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red chili sauce
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a fat pinch of salt

Batter:

  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 egg white, beaten to stiff.
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for marinade in a large bowl.
  2. Toss in shrimp and mix gently to coat. Set them aside to marinate until the batter is ready.
  3. Now mix 2 tablespoon flour with salt, 1 pinch of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons cornflour in another bowl.
  4. Stir in soy sauce and chili powder. Mix well.
  5. Beat egg white in an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks.
  6. Fold the egg white into the cornflour mixture. Mix gently.
  7. Stir in enough water to make a thick yet smooth batter.
  8. Toss in marinated shrimp to this batter and toss to coat well.
  9. Add oil to a deep fryer and heat to 375 degrees F.
  10. Add coated shrimp and deep fry until golden brown.
  11. Serve and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories 162
  • Total Fat 2 g
  • Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol 159 mg
  • Sodium 591 mg
  • Potassium 240 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 14.3 g
  • Sugars 0.4 g
  • Protein 20.8 g

Fried Fantail Shrimp

This is a simple dip and fry recipe. If the flour coat is not enough to get you the crispiness you want than an added layer of breadcrumbs will do a miracle for the texture. The sauce is optional, and can be replaced with any other sauce of your choice.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 large shrimp uncooked
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbs. horseradish
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions:

  1. Add oil up to 3 inches of a deep fryer pan and heat it to 375 degrees F.
  2. Remove the shell from the shrimp and pull the shrimp legs apart.
  3. Cut the back of the shrimp halfway through and spread the tail into a fan shape.
  4. Add flour to a shallow dish, add shrimp and coat well with flour.
  5. Whisk egg with milk in another bowl.
  6. Dip the dusted shrimp in the whisked egg mixture.
  7. Now coat the shrimp with the breadcrumbs.
  8. Add the coated shrimp to the deep fryer.
  9. Fry them well until golden brown and crispy.
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing ketchup, horseradish and lemon juice.
  11. Serve the fried shrimp with the sauce.
  12. You can also season shrimp with salt and pepper before coating with flour.

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories 205
  • Total Fat 3 g
  • Saturated Fat 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol 519 mg
  • Sodium 672 mg
  • Potassium 68 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 22 g
  • Sugars 1.1 g
  • Protein 37.1 g

Conclusion

Whenever you feel like enjoying a bucket full of crispy seafood, then give fantail shrimp a try by experimenting with its variety of recipes. Though shrimps are used in various ways including stews, gumbo, BBQs, etc., fantail shrimp are particularly great for fried dishes. It looks tempting, and all the flavors penetrate deep into the center.

What is more important than cooking is the preparation of the shrimp into a well-shaped fan. Careful peeling of the shell, slight cutting and balanced spreading are the crux of getting a fine fantail shrimp. However, if you are a beginner and not really good with knives, then go for readymade, store packed fantail shrimp. Just make sure to read the labels and the features well before you make your decision.

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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