The Snappiest Shrimp

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Head-on shrimp are a crowd-pleasing centerpiece, but are easy to overcook and a pain to peel at the table. To make it easier, brine raw shrimp in a slushy solution of sea salt and baking soda. Alkaline baking soda slightly alters the pH of the shrimp, making them as plump and succulent as lobster and resistant to overcooking. The brine also causes the meat to pull away from the shells while cooking, so you get all the great flavor of shell-on shrimp without the hassle.

The Snappiest Shrimp
Photo: Christopher Testani
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
Yield:
6

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water

  • 1/2 cup fine sea salt (such as La Baleine)

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda

  • 3 pounds raw head-on jumbo pink or brown wild Gulf shrimp

  • 3 cups cracked ice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine 8 cups water, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, and stir until salt and baking soda dissolve and water is clear, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Add shrimp and ice. Chill 1 hour. Remove shrimp from brine, and pat dry. Discard brine. Chill shrimp until ready to cook, up to 1 hour.

  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss shrimp with oil and black pepper, and spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until heads are just opaque, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and serve immediately.

Notes

Try this method with any size shrimp cooked any way.

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