Not everyone likes eating seafood, but those who do, like shrimp shells. This is because shrimp shells are one of the tastiest treats out there and are common in Asian cuisine. For this reason, if you are fond of western cuisine, we are sure you have never enjoyed a shrimp shell, which is why you end up asking, “can you eat shrimp shells?” So, with this article, we are tapping into the details and sharing if it’s the right decision to munch on shrimp shells or not!
Can You Eat Shrimp Shells?
Generally speaking, it is fine to consume shrimp shells because they are fully edible and don’t cause any health-related harm. In the majority of cases, the western restaurants remove the shrimp shells from the recipes to enhance the texture, but some recipes also keep them on for improving the overall flavor profile, texture, and health benefits. Having said that, you can easily eat shrimp shells without compromising on safety.
You must remember that shrimp shells are not digestible, but it’s important to add that they are palatable. If you are concerned about the contents, shrimp shells are made of chitin, a polymer that creates the shell (the same component is evident in the lobster shells and other crustaceans). The cuisines that use shrimp shells do it for texture and flavor, and they are safe to have, but there are other factors to consider.
It’s already evident that you can eat shrimp shells, and they look amazing. In addition, they even taste well, but that requires proper cooking methods. Many people think that shrimp shells are just the barriers to the soft meat of the shrimps, but it’s not true. This is because you must eat the full shrimps to enjoy the authentic flavors. For the same reason, you can eat the head and tail as well, while eating the shells ensures lesser wastage and is actually time-efficient.
As far as removing the shrimp shells is concerned, it can be pretty annoying, irrespective of the fact that you are removing the shell before or after cooking. Many people try to remove shells with the help of a spoon and fork, which is not professional and takes so much time. So, whenever you are presented with a shrimp dish with the shells on, remember that you can eat it, and there is no need to remove the shells (it will be tasty, we promise).
The Nutritional Profile Of Shrimp Shells
When it comes down to shrimp shells, they are beneficial for one’s health, and there are no adverse impacts that you need to worry about. In simpler words, there are no adverse health impacts of eating shrimp shells because they are simple and healthy biomaterials. Even more, there are zero adverse compounds in the shrimp shells, so you don’t need to worry about falling sick if you eat the shells.
On top of everything, the shrimp shells have some trapped minerals that enhance the overall nutritional value of the shells and the food. In addition, the shrimp shells have special proteins like keratin, which means adding them to your diet won’t be bad for the health unless you have allergies and will deliver sufficient health value to the eaters.
The Flavor Profile Of Shrimp Shells
If you purchase the unseasoned and uncooked shrimps, the shells won’t have any flavor and color, which is the prime reason why many people discard the shells (many cuisines remove the shells as well). However, little do you know that shrimp shells are great at trapping seasonings, spices, and other flavor sources when you are cooking the shrimps, so sucking on them will be a delicious experience.
Even more, when shrimp shells are properly cooked, they will be delicious and full of flavor. If you are cooking them yourself, you can add these shells to the broth, and the flavor will be deepened. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that shrimp shells can add a lot to the recipe as far as you know how to remove the unpleasant texture of the shells.
The Right Way Of Cooking Shrimp Shells
We have already mentioned that following the correct cooking method is important to ensure the shrimp shells come out delicious. So, in the section below, we are sharing some ways of cooking shrimp shells that enhance and retain the flavor, such as;
1. Soft-Shell Broiling Or Baking
If you have purchased the soft-shelled crabs, broiling or baking are the right methods during which the shell is kept on (the shells will remain on during the cooking process). The crab is eaten with the shells, and it’s a popular method among chefs and cooks to get the best results. For the most part, this cooking method is used in Cajun countries and New Orleans.
2. Using In Stock Or Broth
This might be a different approach to cooking the shrimp shells, but you can add them to the broth or stock. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it’s a common cooking method with which the shells are dissolved in stock or broth, leading to an extra punch of flavor. The best thing about using this cooking method is that it doesn’t compromise the texture of shells.
In eastern countries, it is common for people to fry the shrimps without taking off the shells. When the shells are fried properly, the heat is likely to reduce the brittle texture, resulting in their softening, so the shrimp shells will be easier to consume. With the frying method, the shrimp shells will disintegrate whenever you bite on them and will have a rich flavor and unique texture. It’s safe to say that frying will resolve the texture issue while creating an exciting way for you to enjoy the shrimps.
To summarize, it is possible and safe to eat shrimp shells because they aren’t only healthy but delicious as well. However, you need to ensure that you are preparing the shrimp shells properly (refer to the cooking methods mentioned above) to enhance their texture and make them palatable.