Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
This week, we found a Shrimp Deveiner!
Peeling and deveining whole fresh shrimp can be a tedious task, especially if you’re using smaller shrimp for your purposes. This device can make the task a little less onerous, although it still requires some effort.
If you don’t live on the coast where you can get fresh shrimp, you may not need this device. Most imported shrimp come headless and in that “easy peel” form, with the top shell split and no vein showing. Indeed, if you live in the middle of the country, you may have never seen whole shrimp available. Along the Gulf Coast, and here in New Orleans, the most common shrimp available are, in fact, whole head-on unpeeled shrimp. (The advantage to a cook is that you have the heads and shells for a shrimp stock.) The shrimp “vein”, of course, is the digestive tract of the shrimp. Shrimp are omnivores and will scavenge whatever they can find, dead or alive.
It’s less a question of how healthy it is to eat the vein than a question of aesthetics and the “gross out” factor for some people. It’s possible for the vein to contain a bit of grit, but if you’re using smaller shrimp in a soup or stew, deveining may be more psychological than anything else. And obviously if you’re serving whole unpeeled cooked shrimp, you can’t devein.
The deveiner in the above photo is a large one, and it works well for the large shrimp being peeled and deveined in the demonstration by Tableau chef Ben Thibodeaux. It should work well for most sizes. If you’re planning to shell and devein a lot of shrimp, you might consider an electric machine for a few hundred dollars that can clean up to 6000 shrimp per hour.
Our Rating: A good basic device for peeling and deveining shrimp. If you cook with a lot of whole unpeeled shrimp, it’s an inexpensive help.
Design: Simple. Requires some effort to use.
Originality: Similar to other such devices, but fixed, that is non-mechanical.
Practicality: Good especially if you’re doing a lot of fresh whole shrimp.