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How To Head Fresh Shrimp: A Step By Step Guide To Removing the Heads from Shrimp

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Step One: Choose Fresh Head-On Shrimp
Fresh Head-On Shrimp

Fresh Carolina Brown Shrimp

Doug DuCap

If you see head-on shrimp in the market, don’t be afraid to buy them. Head-on shrimp retain their natural moisture better, which makes for superior flavor and texture. Head-on shrimp may seem confounding at first sight, but removing the heads (better known as ‘heading’) is easy, if a bit messy.

Buy the Best: Be sure to buy only very fresh shrimp; avoid shrimp with black dots, as these indicate bacterial growth. Choose shrimp that are firm to the touch -- not mushy or waterlogged. Let frozen shrimp defrost slowly in the refrigerator and be sure to allow the water to drain off as they defrost.

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