If time allows when you’re cooking, starting from scratch is always best. And in the case of peeling and deveining shrimp it can save you money — shrimp per pound is considerably more expensive if the work has been done for you. Makes perfect sense, but it’s really easy to do yourself, and from my experience, it’s the sort of kitchen work that can be a very zen-like activity. Off we go . . .
Step 1: Fill a large bowl with ice, and place another bowl or plate directly on top of it. As you peel and devein the shrimp, place them here to keep them chilled.
Step 2: Using your index finger and thumb, gently pinch the tail and segment or two of shell closest to it. As you pinch, pull it in the direction of the tail, right off the flesh. It should easily slide off. Step 3: Still working with your fingers, gently pinch the remaining center legs, up, over and around the flesh.
(Either discard the shells, or, and even better, save them to make a shrimp stock that can be used for other recipes, like seafood risotto, soup and/or stew. You can freeze the shells in a tightly sealed plastic bag until you’re ready to use them.)Step 4: Use a very sharp paring knife to make as shallow a slit as possible, down the back of the shrimp, beginning where the head once was.