Alex Guarnaschelli's Signs For Perfectly Cooked Shrimp - Exclusive

Alex Guarnaschelli has a PSA for all shrimp lovers: Undercooking these sea critters is as much a culinary crime as overcooking them. "Overcooked shrimp ... can be chewy and rubbery, but it's also odd when you undercook them and they're still a little kind of raw in the middle," the chef told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview.

Guarnaschelli, who is serving seared shrimp to customers planning to visit her on-site restaurant at the US Open, told us that the key to perfectly cooked shrimp is closely watching the seafood's color transformation. "Shrimp, they have no fat, so they really cook quickly," Guarnaschelli explained. "Don't walk away ... don't get on an email chain, or start binge-watching TV in the other room." You're aiming for a quick, high-heat cook, and you'll want to take the crustaceans off the heat before they reach their optimal color. "They start out mostly blue and white, and when they're cooked, they're no longer opaque and they turn pinkish reddish-white, so you've got a color indicator," she described. The recipe she shared with the James Beard Foundation calls for removing the crustaceans from the heat while they're "slightly pink [but] translucent." This is a critical tip to remember because shrimp will continue cooking off the heat, at, as she put it, a "less frenzied rate."  Guarnaschelli says you'll know when they're done "When they've "brown[ed] a little bit." 

Don't over season your shrimp, per Alex Guarnaschelli

The only condiment you need to season your shrimp with is salt. If you're a visual learner, watch Alex Guarnaschelli make the dish for Food Network. "The thing about shrimp is, you just got to get shrimp from raw to cooked to on the plate, tasting like itself," Guarnaschelli told her Food Network colleagues while prepping them. "It tastes like ocean water when you cook shrimp the right way." The culinary celeb drops her salt-seasoned crustaceans in hot canola oil (for its high smoke point) and adds a touch of butter to the mix while they're cooking. In the classic shrimp scampi recipe that the Iron Chef published in "Cook With Me," Guarnaschelli recommends cooking the shrimp in a "single layer," leaving space between each.

Also, don't cook your shrimp in sauce. Instead, coat your already-cooked shrimp in your sauce of choice after you've removed them from the heat. At the US Open, Guarnaschelli plans on serving them with a snap pea salsa verde