What Happens When You Don’t Devein Shrimp?

Have you heard that you should devein a shrimp before eating it? While seafood is delicious, it isn’t always the easiest to cook with. Shrimp is no exception, as you have shells and veins to deal with before eating it. But what happens when you don’t devein shrimp?

Not deveining shrimp isn’t necessarily dangerous, as the bacteria is killed when cooking the shrimp. However, if you don’t devein the shrimp, the vein may cause a bitter taste when eating it. Devein the shrimp before cooking, as it is harder to get the vein out once the shrimp is cooked.

You may wonder if it is dangerous to leave the vein inside the shrimp when cooking it. If not, you wonder how to remove the shrimp’s vein and if store-bought shrimp are already deveined. Well, we have the answers to all these questions.

Is It Dangerous To Eat A Shrimp’s Vein?

Before discussing the risks and effects of eating shrimp with the veins intact, you may wonder what the vein is and where it can be found. A shrimp’s vein isn’t a vein. Instead, it is the shrimp’s digestive tract. The digestive tract is just underneath the shell, on the backside of the shrimp’s tail.

Inside the tract, you will find sand and partially digested food matter. As in humans, there are also bacteria in the digestive tract that digests the food matter. This is why some people worry about the effects of eating shrimp without having it deveined first.

Fortunately, the bacteria inside the vein die when the shrimp is cooked, meaning that it doesn’t pose a threat when eaten. It’s unlikely that you will get sick when eating shrimp with the vein. Yet, the vein does alter the shrimp’s taste and texture.

Because of the sand and grit inside the vein, the shrimp may have a gritty texture. It may also taste bitter because of the digested food matter inside the vein. Therefore, most people prefer to devein the shrimp before cooking it to ensure the taste and texture are delicious.

Pregnant women also shouldn’t eat shrimp unless the vein is removed, as it may cause them to become ill. If some bacteria are still alive in the vein, it can be dangerous for a pregnant woman. Overall, leaving the vein in the shrimp shouldn’t cause problems and won’t be dangerous.

Most shrimp you get in a restaurant will be deveined. However, if you don’t have much experience cooking shrimp, you may wonder if the shrimp you get in a store still has the vein inside.

Does Shrimp Have Veins When You Buy It?

You can buy shrimp in a few different forms, like fresh, frozen, shelled, or cooked shrimp. Determining if the shrimp still has a vein inside is important if you want to remove it before cooking. So let’s consider which shrimps may have veins when you buy them.

1. Does Fresh Shrimp Have Veins In When You Buy It?

It isn’t always as easy to find fresh shrimp. However, the shrimp will likely have the shell and head intact when you do. You can assume that this means that the shrimp hasn’t been deveined. Ask the fishmonger to be sure or check if there is a cut on the backside of the shell.

Looking at the shell, you can tell if the shrimp has been deveined. The vein creates a dark line along the back of the shell. We’ll discuss removing the vein later, but you will see the vein through the shell if it is still there.

2. Does Frozen Shrimp Have Veins In When You Buy It?

Frozen shrimp can be whole, have the head removed, or be shelled completely. Depending on how the shrimp is processed, it may or may not be deveined. Whole, frozen shrimp usually still has the vein, as these shrimps haven’t been processed in any way. Again, you can tell if the shrimp has a vein by looking at the back of the shell.

If you notice the back of the shell has been cut, it’s likely because the vein has been removed. You can also look at the description on the packaging to determine whether the shrimp has been deveined. The packaging should indicate if the shrimp has been deveined.

3. Does Shelled Shrimp Have Veins In When You Buy It?

Shelled shrimp is usually already cooked. In this case, you’ll notice that the head has been removed. The shell is also taken off the shrimp, although the very end of the tail’s shell may remain. This shrimp is also known as shrimp tails. These are often already deveined.

Again, you can check the packaging to determine whether the shrimp is deveined. However, since the shell is completely removed from shelled shrimp, it’s doubtful that they won’t also be deveined by the time you buy them.

4. Does Cooked Shrimp Have Veins In When You Buy It?

Cooked shrimp is almost guaranteed to be deveined when you buy them. Whether buying the shrimp freshly cooked or frozen, they will likely be deveined, as they should be deveined before being cooked.

If you aren’t sure whether the cooked shrimp are deveined, you can check the packaging or ask someone in the store. When eating at a restaurant, you can safely consume the shrimp as they should be deveined before cooking.

How To Devein A Shrimp

If you bought fresh or frozen shrimp that haven’t been deveined, you should know how to devein them before cooking. The best way to devein a shrimp is to allow it to defrost thoroughly and rinse the shrimp with cold water to ensure it is clean.

Then, using a knife or scissors, cut the shrimp’s shell along the back end of the tail. You’ll see the vein through the shell and can cut right next to it. Don’t worry if you nick the vein while cutting the shell open, as the contents won’t run out. 

Make the cut from across the entire tail, starting where the head meets the tail and ending where the tail ends. Then, use a toothpick to scoop the vein out. The vein should come out of the shrimp without a problem. Give it a slight tug towards the end, releasing the vein from the tail.

Finally, you can rinse the shrimp again to remove any grit from where the vein was before cooking it to your liking. Again, it’s important to devein the shrimp before cooking it, as the vein will be mushy and difficult to remove once cooked.

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Nothing bad will happen when not deveining a shrimp. The vein (digestive tract) isn’t harmful, and all the bacteria inside the tract are killed when you cook the shrimp. However, the shrimp may taste bitter and gritty if you leave the vein in, which is why most people prefer to devein the shrimp before cooking.