Although shrimp is a versatile creature when it comes to preparation, it is most frequently steamed or fried. Steaming shrimp is convenient because it cooks the shrimp without doing much else to it, allowing you to use it for a variety of recipes. From dipping cooked shrimp in a sauce of some sort or chopping it up for shrimp salad.
You could buy cooked shrimp from the grocery store, but chances are the shrimp were cooked months ago and have been in a freezer ever since. You also have no idea how fresh the shrimp were at the time of being cooked. I am not saying that precooked shrimp are inedible. I am simply saying that buying it would be a silly waste of time. And it is much better to buy fresh shrimp and steam them yourself. This way you know that the shrimp are fresh and freshly cooked. Below are two different methods of steaming shrimp—one is an electric rice cooker that doubles as a steamer and the other is a stove-top type steamer.
1. Put about two inches of water into the bottom of the first pot and place the second pot with the holes in it on top of it. Then turn the heat on and put the lid on. You have the option of adding stuff to the water like bay leaves, juniper berries, and peppercorns. But it really isn't necessary. Once the water begins to boil, put a single layer of raw shrimp into the bottom of the top pan, making sure to leave enough space for steam to move around all the shrimp. Cover the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Steam the shrimp for 4-5 minutes and then check them.
2. Shrimp is done when the flesh changes from grayish translucent to opaque white. Of course they will also be red. But make sure they're done by cutting one in half at the thickest part. It should be white all the way through. When the shrimp is done, dunk it in cold water to halt the cooking process. Use the cooked shrimp right away or save in a dry container for up to five days in the refrigerator.
1. Put an inch of water in the bottom of the rice cooker, and turn it to the steam setting. The water should begin boiling in a few minutes. Once the steamer is steaming, place the shrimp in the steamer, and put the lid back on. The shrimp I used were U 16/20 (16-20 shrimp per pound), so I cooked them for 7 minutes. Smaller shrimp will take less time. And logically larger shrimp will take longer. Make sure not to put too many shrimp in at one time or they won't cook evenly.
2. Once you think the shrimp are done, check them to make sure. You can tell by squeezing them. There should be a little give. And if you bite into it, it should be tender and not chewy like rubber. When the shrimp are done, they turn from a translucent gray to an opaque white. And, of course, they are red too. But the red can come from any sudden change in temperature and does not necessarily mean that they are done.
Probably the best way to thaw shrimp would be to let them sit for 36 hours in a refrigerator. But that requires a lot of planning ahead. Luckily, shrimp thaw very fast, which make them an ideal candidate for last-minute meals. To thaw shrimp quickly, remove them from their packaging and immerse them in water that is room temperature. Put the bowl in the sink and let water flow freely into the bowl and out. The water must be flowing to be considered safe. Let the shrimp sit for a few minutes before you start breaking them up and getting the ice out. Carefully remove the whole shrimps from the conglomerated mass of shrimp and ice that has formed in the bowl. When the shrimp are free floating in the water, they will thaw very quickly. Once all the shrimp are thawed, remove them from the bowl and drain them in a colander for ten minutes, and you're done.
It is entirely possible to cook shrimp from frozen. In fact is done quite frequently in restaurants all across the world. Cooking from frozen just takes a little longer. When you put the frozen shrimp in the steamer, check them after a couple of minutes. You are thawing them as you are cooking them, so you will have to move them around a little to ensure even cooking. Be careful not to overcook or undercook the shrimp. Cut one in half to make sure they are cooked all the way through.