Here’s how to tell if shrimp is cooked: examine its color, shape, and texture. A well-cooked shrimp has an opaque, white color with a pink sheen.
As it cooks and its muscles contract, the shrimp firms, and curls into a “C” shape.
Use a cooking thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the shrimp. The ideal internal temperature for a well-cooked shrimp is 120°F.
How to Know When Shrimp is Done
Chefs can roast, boil, saute, or fry shrimp for excellent, light dishes.
Because there are various methods for cooking shrimp, there are different ways to tell if a shrimp is cooked based on its color, texture, appearance, shape, opacity, temperature.
Color is the best sign of a perfectly cooked shrimp. A properly cooked shrimp will be an opaque white color with a pinkish sheen.
The color may vary slightly depending on the species and the natural color of the shrimp.
The normal color of a raw shrimp is bluish-green. Some shrimp may have a reddish translucent color, especially when only partially cooked.
Meanwhile, overcooked shrimp appear grayish or matte white.
The texture of a well-cooked shrimp should be firm but not chewy. An undercooked shrimp is too tough to eat, while overcooked shrimp can be dry and rubbery.
The size and age of a shrimp predict its final texture. Larger and older shrimp contain more connective tissue and less moisture, so they must be cooked longer to achieve a soft texture.
As the shrimp loses moisture, it shrinks and develops a shaggy appearance along the edges. The shaggy appearance is evidence that the proteins are contracting and coagulating.
A well-cooked shrimp will be curled in a “C” shape. This “C” shape appears as the shrimp loses moisture and the protein strands tighten.
The normal shape of a raw shrimp is straight. Overcooking gives the shrimp an “O” shape as the muscles and connective tissue contract even more.
Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of shrimp. Shrimp are done once they reach an internal temperature of 120°F.
The FDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145°F for almost all seafood, but shrimp are particularly prone to overcooking and are safe to eat at a temperature of 120°F.
How to Buy Shrimp
Shrimp vary in size and age, which affects the texture of cooked shrimp. Most seafood suppliers remove the heads and shells of shrimp before selling them.
Check for Freshness
Before buying shrimp, ensure they are fresh and have a healthy odor that is sweet and briny. Avoid shrimp with an ammonia odor or those that smell overly fishy or sour.
If a shrimp has black spots on its head or if it has opened and is draining fluid, these are signs that the shrimp has gone bad.
Always check the date on the package to ensure the shrimp is fresh.
Frozen or Fresh?
Most supermarkets and groceries sell both fresh and frozen shrimp. Fresh shrimp are available year-round.
Compared to fresh shrimp, frozen shrimp are usually cheaper, and they’re also easier to store.
Look out for shrimp with deceptive labeling.
It’s better to buy frozen shrimp and defrost them at home rather than buy shrimp that is described as fresh but has actually been frozen and defrosted.
Pre-cooked or Raw?
Shrimp is sold either pre-cooked or raw. It’s best to buy raw shrimp and cook them at home rather than buy pre-cooked shrimp.
Most pre-cooked shrimp are rubbery and chewy because they are overcooked during the cooking process.
Different Ways of Cooking Shrimp
There are different ways of cooking shrimp, including boiling, sautéing, or grilling. Shrimp can also be deep-fried or roasted.
Shrimp tastes great combined with other ingredients in numerous recipes. Adding shrimp to a recipe enhances the texture and flavor of the dish.
Boiling shrimp is an easy way to cook shrimp. To boil shrimp, put water in a large pot and bring it to a boil.
Add the shrimp, and watch the water as it returns to a boil. Once the water starts boiling again, remove the shrimp and put them in an iced water bath.
The boiled shrimp can then be seasoned and/or added into a broth. Shrimp can also be seasoned while boiling.
Most people boil shrimp with salt and other seasonings, such as lemon juice and spices.
Grilling shrimp gives them a smokey and woody flavor. To grill shrimp, preheat the grill to medium heat. Drizzle olive oil over the shrimp and season them with salt, pepper, oregano, or cumin.
Lay the shrimp on the grill over direct heat for about 3 minutes for each side. Turn the shrimp over once the underside turns pink.
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil, garlic, or onions until they soften. Add shrimp and cook for one to two minutes on each side.
Add other ingredients, such as chopped vegetables or salsa, to the pan. Simmer the shrimp plus the other ingredients, cook for about four minutes, and serve on rice or pasta.
Roasting shrimp yields a crispy texture. To roast shrimp, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Run the shrimp under cold water for about five minutes while turning the shrimp, so all shrimp parts are exposed to the cold water.
Lay all of the shrimp in a single layer with alternating heads and tails. Drizzle olive oil over the shrimp and season them with salt, pepper, thyme, basil, lemon juice, or other seasonings.
Turn the shrimp over once the underside turns pink. Roast the shrimp for about three minutes and then bake until they turn pink or become slightly opaque.
Experts Tips for Avoiding Overcooked or Undercooked Shrimp
Eating undercooked shrimp can make you sick, while overcooked shrimp are rubbery and tasteless.
To avoid undercooked or overcooked shrimp, follow these tips:
Use Shrimp of the Same Size for Even Cooking
Use shrimp of the same size to avoid overcooking or undercooking. Shrimp can shrink quickly, so cooking shrimp of the same size simultaneously prevents both overcooking and undercooking.
Remove Shrimp from Heat Once Cooked
Once shrimp is cooked, immediately remove it from heat to avoid overcooking. Shrimp cooks very quickly, so make sure to remove it as soon as it appears cooked.
Don’t Bury Your Shrimp in Sauces or Seasonings
Invest time into cooking shrimp perfectly and try to buy quality shrimp, rather than covering up the flavor with sauces or seasonings. Cooking shrimp perfectly requires attention and effort.
Cook Shrimp for the Right Amount of Time
Shrimp cooks very quickly, so make sure to monitor the cooking process carefully.
Shrimp cooks in a matter of minutes, so even a small-time difference can produce undercooked or overcooked shrimp.
Is it Safe to Eat Undercooked Shrimp?
Eating undercooked shrimp can cause food-borne illnesses, such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus infections. It’s crucial to eat properly cooked shrimp.
The perfect temperature for cooked shrimp is 120°F. To find out the exact temperature, test the shrimp using a meat thermometer.