The Toothpick Hack To Quickly Devein Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the quickest proteins to cook but one of the longest and most tedious to prep. Once on the stove, the little crustaceans typically only need to fry for a few minutes on each side, but if they don't already come deveined, you may spend a good amount of time doing this manually beforehand. It's not always necessary to devein shrimp, but if you don't, you may end up with a gritty texture. 

Most methods suggest you remove the shell first, which you can do with your hands or scissors if you only want to cut around the part with the vein. Then, typically, you'd use a paring knife to cut into the back of the shrimp to get a good grip on the vein. But the shells have a lot of flavor, and there may be instances where you'll want to cook with them on. So if you want an easier way to devein (shell on or off), just grab a toothpick.

Where to poke

If it's what you have on hand, a toothpick works great, but this is a low-tech operation, and you can also use a skewer or a paperclip (which will last longer if you're deveining large quantities for a shrimp boil). If you bought frozen shrimp rather than fresh, ensure they're completely thawed before beginning. 

The basic operation is simple: wedge the toothpick under the vein, then pry it until a portion slides out. Then, get a good grip on it and pull out the rest. You'll want to position your toothpick (or what have you) in the second joint from the tail and poke through the flesh and/or shell. Once you pull the toothpick up, the shell will pop open slightly, and part of the dark vein will pry loose, ready to be yanked. While you're deveining, having a bowl of water handy can be helpful, as the veins can get sticky, and you may want to rinse your fingers before moving on to the next.