¿How to prevent shrimp from shrinking?

How to avoid shrimp shrinkage?

One of the things we struggle with the most as home cooks is preparing shrimp without shrinkage, since we are always looking for our dishes to be as tasty as they are attractive.

Today we will show you the most effective ways to prevent this from happening and to have better results when cooking these delicious seafood.

Shrimp are joined by abdominal segments or strips that fold together and have a hardened layer. These strips cause the shrimp to shrink quickly when cooked, so it is advisable to defrost them properly beforehand, make deep cuts between these abdominal sections and adapt the cooking method according to the dish to be prepared.

Why do shrimp shrink?

The reason why this happens is because the lower part of each shrimp is connected by segments that divide its abdomen.

These abdominal segments are muscular, jointed together, covered by a hardened layer and allow the shrimp to move.

abdominal section of a Penaeus Indicus shrimp or white shrimp

If you pick one up with your hand you will see these segments as small strips or strips that fold or bend into each other in the area of its abdomen. These strips cause the shrimp to shrink quickly during cooking.

Some shrimp become smaller than others when you cook them; as a general rule, smaller shrimp tend to shrink more than larger ones.

What if I bought frozen shrimp?

If you bought frozen shrimp, keep in mind that the ones sitting on top of a pile of ice at the seafood store are not really fresh. These shrimp are frozen and thawed for who knows how long.

Buying live shrimp fresh from the sea, river or pond will ensure that they are really fresh and much better than frozen. However, this is not very often the case!

Tips to avoid shrimp shrinkage

To give you a guide to help you prepare your meals better we will give you the most important tips to prevent shrimp from getting smaller before and after cooking.

Make cuts in the lower part of the abdomen

Since shrimp have these abdominal segments that hold them together, you will need to make deep cuts on the underside of each shrimp.

These cuts will break these joints which will make them less likely to curl or shrink when cooked.

Another option is to cut them in a butterfly shape, a special cut for preparing grilled or broiled shrimp.

Buy IQF shrimp

These shrimp are the best for defrosting as they have undergone the special IQF (Individual Quick Freezing) process. Buy them in the shells and thaw them yourself.

Thaw them properly

One of the best ways to thaw shrimp is to place them in a colander in the refrigerator or you can also thaw them at room temperature.

Another is to put the shrimp in a sealed bag or Ziploc bag regardless of whether air accumulates inside, then run tap water over the bag at room temperature. Don’t use warm water and make sure the bag is tightly sealed to prevent water from entering.

Do not overcook shrimp

Whether grilled, broiled or baked, keep in mind that the shrimp should be cooked for no more than 3 minutes on each side. Keep in mind that the larger the shrimp are, the longer you should cook them, and make sure that the shrimp are firm enough.

If you boil the shrimp, the ideal is that they are previously thawed, put them in boiling water and let them cook for 3 minutes, then put them in ice water to prevent them from continuing to cook and shrink.

Cook the shrimp with lemon

If you have already defrosted the shrimp correctly as we showed you in previous steps, the best thing to do is to cook them in lime or lemon juice, do it for 20 minutes and you will see the results.


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