Learn how to devein shrimp in two easy ways. For step-by-step instructions, we also included a video tutorial to show you the process.
Here you will find a simple way to devein shrimp and prepare them for delicious shrimp recipes. The black vein that runs along the back of the shrimp is an intestinal tract of unappetizing grit. While shrimp can be cooked and eaten with or without the vein, most people prefer it removed for the taste and presentation. And deveining shrimp is very easy to do.
Watch How to Devein and Clean Shrimp (How To)
A how-to guide with step-by-step instructions and photos on how to devein and clean shrimp.
Two easy ways to devein shrimp
1) If you are planning to marinade the shrimp and want the shrimp to absorb the flavors of the marinade well, you can devein by making a slit along the middle of the back with a small sharp knife and pull the dark vein (sometimes clear). This is the easiest way.
2) The following technique by using a skewer to devein shrimp is for maintaining maximum juiciness in the shrimp without cutting the back of shrimp open.
Extra tip: using potato starch to clean shrimp
Now you might be wondering why I use potato starch (katakuriko 片栗粉, or corn starch) to clean shrimp after removing the shrimp shell.
Sometimes rinsing the shrimp under cold running water is not enough to completely clean shrimp. In Japanese cooking, we usually clean shrimp with potato starch by rubbing them together. The potato starch absorbs the smell and dirty particles from shrimp very well. You will see how dirty the starch becomes when you’re rinsing the shrimp.
Check the difference between one rinsed with potato starch and one without. You’ll be surprised! Hope you give it a try for your next shrimp recipe!
How To Devein Shrimp
- Pull off the head if it is still attached. Peel off the outer shell. It's easier to peel from the 3rd segment from the head. In this recipe, I'll keep the last segment of the shell and the tail tip on (which is how we make shrimp tempura).
- Devein the back of shrimp with a skewer. The vein runs right along the back. Insert the tip of the skewer sideways about ½ inch (1.3cm) down from the head of the shrimp and pull the skewer tip up towards you. This will lift up the vein and you can pull off the vein with the skewer or with your hand. If the vein is broken, then insert again a bit lower towards the tail. If you can’t find the vein, then don’t worry about it. You can still devein the same way even with the shell on prawn.
- Sprinkle some potato/corn starch and coat the shrimp. Potato/corn starch will absorb the smell and dirt from the shrimp. Rinse the shrimp under running water.
- [Optional] To get rid of the smell, you can add 1-2 Tbsp sake and rub with your hands. Discard the liquid after 10 minutes (no need to rinse).