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Ericandblueboy

Tail-On Shrimp

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Shell games

“I have a pet peeve regarding shrimp served tail-on,” emails Katt Hancher of Sterling, Va. “It does not seem to vary by restaurant type or quality, leaving the diner to either cut off or figure out how to save the meat in the tail-end, and then politely dispose of the shell without making a mess. Is there a reason for doing this? Would it be rude to send it back to the kitchen and ask for the tail-end shell to be removed?”

Tails are left on for a variety of reasons, some having to do with aesthetics; shrimp look better and larger with their ends on, say defenders of the practice. In the case of cocktail shrimp presented in a bowl or platter, the tails make good handles.

Tails also add texture and flavor to a dish, says John Critchley, executive chef of the recently reviewed Siren in Washington. The decision to remove tails or leave them on can depend on how the shrimp is prepared. “We leave the shell at the end of the tail to protect the cooking of this narrow part that cooks faster than the thicker part close to the head, especially when they are grilled or seared,” says Fabio Trabocchi, whose restaurants include the seafood-themed Del Mar in the District Wharf and Fiola Mare in Georgetown. “When we poach shrimp in oil, however, this is not necessary.” The chef adds, “We often leave the entire shell on for a pristine type of prawn, when it is baked in salt or poached. The shell is to be peeled at the table, and our guests should use their fingers to peel them, without feeling uncomfortable.” As for any mess at his restaurants, warm towels follow the seafood.
 
I can't find the thread that raised the question, but here're some responses.

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So you don't eat the best part of the shrimp?  What a waste of fine taste.  Getting the meat from the tail as easy as biting the tail near the fins and pulling gently on them with the shrimp in your mouth.  Conversely, there is generally a knife on the table, one quick slit of the tail shell and you are rewarded. I certainly hope the OP doesn't go to Asia (or Louisiana for that matter), they'll have to deal with the entire shell left on shrimp.  This problem ranks right up there with "why do lamb chops have paper hats on the rib end?"

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1 hour ago, Escoffier said:

This problem ranks right up there with "why do lamb chops have paper hats on the rib end?"

That practice annoys me as well.  It's like they are serving them to children and have to make them look cute.  My position is that nothing should be added to a plate that is not edible and meant to be eaten as part of the meal.  Paper hats are not edible.  Therefore they should not be on my plate.  Crawfish and shrimp boils are completely different matters.  As is crab picking.

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On 12/6/2017 at 2:34 PM, Escoffier said:

So you don't eat the best part of the shrimp?  What a waste of fine taste.  Getting the meat from the tail as easy as biting the tail near the fins and pulling gently on them with the shrimp in your mouth.  Conversely, there is generally a knife on the table, one quick slit of the tail shell and you are rewarded. I certainly hope the OP doesn't go to Asia (or Louisiana for that matter), they'll have to deal with the entire shell left on shrimp.  This problem ranks right up there with "why do lamb chops have paper hats on the rib end?"

In defense of Louisiana, the entire shell is only left on when the shrimp are boiled. Everything else is tailless...Jambalaya, Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Etoufee, Shrimp and Grits...oh my, I am getting hungry.

What bugs me is when there's a tail and sauce. There's no way to detail the shrimp without getting sauce under nails. That knife idea sounds good, but I am not sure I can pull it off. (pun intended)

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Am I the only one who actually eats the shrimp tails?! Unless it's a chilled shrimp cocktail (in which case the tails are just too hard), I down them all; in a shrimp cocktail, I'll simply pinch the tail as I bite the shrimp, and the meat slides right out.

"Bartolo" means "perforated" in Spanish.

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16 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

In defense of Louisiana, the entire shell is only left on when the shrimp are boiled. Everything else is tailless...Jambalaya, Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Etoufee, Shrimp and Grits...oh my, I am getting hungry.

Me too.

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16 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

IWhat bugs me is when there's a tail and sauce. There's no way to detail the shrimp without getting sauce under nails. That knife idea sounds good, but I am not sure I can pull it off. (pun intended)

Never had that problem and I totally manage to eat all of the shrimp (and most especially the tail) without getting sauce anywhere other than on the shrimp.  Looks like it's time for a tail-of-the-shrimp-consumption dexterity course.

16 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Am I the only one who actually eats the shrimp tails?! Unless it's a chilled shrimp cocktail (in which case the tails are just too hard), I down them all; in a shrimp cocktail, I'll simply pinch the tail as I bite the shrimp, and the meat slides right out.

"Bartolo" means "perforated" in Spanish.

Absolutely not.  The tail is the only part of shrimp that actually has a definite (delicious) flavor. Totally the best part of the shrimp (well, that and the head) 

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19 minutes ago, Escoffier said:

Never had that problem and I totally manage to eat all of the shrimp (and most especially the tail) without getting sauce anywhere other than on the shrimp.  Looks like it's time for a tail-of-the-shrimp-consumption dexterity course.

I think you're talking about shrimp cocktail; NolaCaine is talking about when the entire shrimp is submerged in sauce. For a shrimp cocktail, just dip the front part in the cocktail sauce, and down it in one bite while pinching the tail - I'm certain she knows this, so we must be talking about two things.

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I might need a shrimp in sauce eating lesson. That said, I have had such lessons. I spent a summer in San Fransisco and was with a person of Chinese/Vietnamese descent and we ate everything that San Francisco had to offer. I did eat shrimp shells. I did learn how to de--shell a saucy shrimp with a knife (fail) and where to find the meat in very odd parts of various creatures.

I'm at the point now that as long as I have some hand sanitizer and a near-by bathroom, I'm willing to get quite messy at a table. Especially when seafood is involved.

My true gift is de-shelling shrimp and crab  and crawfish once boiled. I easily work at double the speed of all my peeps in the DMV. Now I'm getting hungry again.

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