Peel ‘n’ Eat Shrimp

work for your food

Finally, my last round of photos from our Hamptons trip. I figured that I’d space them out a bit so that you didn’t get completely tired of seeing us have so much fun. Summer’s almost over though (technically), so it’s time to reminisce. Where did everyone go this summer? What new foods did you eat? Food memories are the strongest, you know! We had a blast swimming, eating, and drinking our way through summer, and while I’m sad to watch it fade into the distance, I’m excited for fall. I’m ready to bake, be it desserts or casseroles or whatever else. I just want to be able to turn my oven on for six hours while Kramer and I marathon a TV show. Is that so much to ask? Is it? Anyway, we plan to pack as much into this upcoming holiday weekend as possible, from what I imagine will be an incredible meal tonight at Traif to a BBQ or two at a friend’s place (I still can’t have a grill…and Jesus wept). First, though, let me tell you a little something about peel ‘n’ eat shrimp.

Peel 'n' Eat ShrimpTaking my brother to the crab shack on his last day here.

Our friends Valerie and Tom took us to this amazing crab shack near their apartment in Long Island City this past summer, and Kramer and I fell in love. They do big, Maryland style platters of crab, covered in delicious Old Bay spices. You crack ’em open yourself, so along with tasty food, there is also a challenge at hand, which I accept wholeheartedly. They also do really good, fairly spicy peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, which I had never had before. Obviously, I’ve eaten tons of shrimp (tons, I say), but I’ve never peeled them myself at dinner. It’s fun! I promise. The shells come off super easily, and then you can enjoy the fruits of your labor by dipping them in yet another spicy sauce and chowing down. I could eat this entire platter myself, then mop up the rest of the sauce with some crusty bread. There’s nothing better than that. So, in the spirit of the Waterfront Crab Shack, I present to you my own peel ‘n’ eat shrimp. Don’t be afraid of the process – all you have to do is rinse them off, pull out the vein (which is much, much easier than it sounds), and stir fry with whatever spices you like. Kramer and I sat down to an episodes of Sons of Anarchy with a big plate of this shrimp and some veggies, and by the end, we were completely stuffed. I feel like you get more full when you have to work for your meal, which isn’t such a bad thing when you’ve got to squeeze into a bathing suit one last time this weekend. If you’re having a cook-out or barbecue some time soon, I highly recommend adding these little guys to the menu.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
My brother found a badminton set and got it put up in the yard.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
This is me probably yelling at Kramer for distracting me in what would have obviously been a winning hit (or strike or whatever it is you call it in badminton).

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Kramer’s dad found us entertaining.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Kramer being proud of himself.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
And his sister, Rachel, following suite.

Peel 'n' Eat ShrimpPeel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Got a bit of tennis in, too – look how active we are on our vacations!

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Then a dip in the pool.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
I just want to drink my drink and float in my homemade noodle chair.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Later on, we went to a small carnival nearby. It was only slightly humid out.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Kramer’s sister got a cheesesteak. Drool.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Everyone in this photo is trying to win me a prize. That’s just what you do, okay?

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
First, if you need to, devein your shrimp. We used a toothpick to get a grip on it in between the shrimp’s scales (or shells? whatever), then gently yanked it out.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Combine your spices and add them to your deveined shrimp.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Heat your oil in a large wok or pan, and cook your shrimp over medium-high heat for 8 minutes or so, until cooked through and pink.

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Peel and eat!

Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp


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Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 as a meal
Old Bay shrimp quickly stir fried in a pot and served peel 'n' eat style.
  • 1 lb. shell on shrimp (de-veined if possible, otherwise you're gonna have to do it yourself!)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne peper
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dill weed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. First, you may need to remove the vein from your shrimp if they still have them. Hold the shrimp straight, and use a toothpick to get under the first scale or shell of the back of the shrimp. Basically, you are looking for the poop trail (get over it). Pull it out with the toothpick. It is delicate, but will slide right out. Rinse the shrimp and pat it dry, then place in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle your seasonings over the shrimp and let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok or large pan, and cook the shell-on shrimp over medium-high heat for 8 minutes or so, until pink and cooked through. Serve with a wedge of lemon and/or some melted butter.


10 Responses

  1. Andie says:

    This sounds really good, and I love all of your recipes that I have made, but would there be more flavor if you peel the shrimp before you add the spices? This way it looks like all of the spices are on the outside of the shell that you don’t want to put in your mouth at all. But it does say to de-vein them, and the vein is under the shell, so wouldn’t you need to peel them to de-vein? I know I’ve had to with every batch I’ve ever had.

    • Sydney says:

      Believe me, they are plenty flavorful! The fun with peel and eat shrimp is the work – you sit with your friends and family, talk, and peel. It’s messy and enjoyable, trust me. As far as the vein goes, like I said in the recipe and the photo, just take a toothpick and poke it through the shell where there is a separation (it’s there, I promise), then yank it out. You can certainly just peel and devein them, if you want, but it’s more about the experience.

  2. I love shell-on shrimp. If you can find them with the head still on they are even better. Luckily I have my mom to do the deveining because based on how she describes it, I think I’d have to live a shrimp-free life if I had to do it.

  3. This looks like the perfect summer weekend!

  4. Molly says:

    You may have noticed I’m a big fan of shrimp. Growing up on the Gulf, for a long time, I believed this was the only way anyone ate shrimp. My dad always boils them with old bay oil, some lemons and some whole peppercorns and then pops them in the freezer for a bit after they’re done cooking so that the shells (yes, shells) come off more easily.

    I did always think it was a bit odd to have peel and eat shrimp after using live ones for bait all day while we were fishing…

  5. You guys have too much fun! Jason and I are such home-bodies but now I want to go play badminton!

    And I totally need to make this shrimp dish. I’m not much of a peeler but I’m sure Jason would have a blast peeling all this for me :)

  6. Lynna says:

    I AM jealous of you guys have too much fun! ahah, Look at those shrimps!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t had shrimp in so long and this looks absolutely delicious!

  8. Jena says:

    When my family (from Ohio) came to visit us (Sunshine Coast, BC), we served them fresh spot prawns with the shells on, and my dad totally balked. I told him he was lucky we took the heads off for him. :)

    Totally saving this for next year to try with fresh spot prawns. :)

  9. Peggy says:

    Look at you guys having so much fun! This shrimp sounds absolutely delicious – my husband and I might have to have a peel and eat shrimp night very soon!

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