The Shrimp Butler
The Shrimp Butler measures 9 inches tall and 8 inches long at the base, and it’s made entirely of plastic except for a small, razor-sharp blade safely affixed to the inside of the casing. Shrimp are fed into a slot at the top of the machine and conveyed past the blade and out the bottom of the machine by means of a ridged wheel, the sides of which tighten to hold the shrimp steady when the lever that moves the wheel is pulled. The procedure, then, is to place a shrimp on the wheel, pull the lever, watch the shrimp come flying out of a chute, and then push the lever back up so you can start the whole process again. Each shrimp pops out with its back sliced neatly open, clearly revealing the vein, if any, that runs just under the back of the shell.
If you plan to shell and devein your shrimp before cooking them, the Shrimp Butler will not do this for you. It does certainly facilitate the task of deveining (by revealing the vein) and shelling (by giving you a good place to start from when peeling), but is this assistance worth its price of $39.99?
To answer this question, we recorded the time it took the same staff member (not a test cook) to shell and devein 1 pound of medium-large shrimp prepped by the Shrimp Butler and the time it took to do the job entirely by hand. The staff member took a total of 14 minutes, 10 seconds, to shell and devein the shrimp by hand and 10 minutes, 50 seconds, with assistance from the Shrimp Butler, for a time savings of 3 minutes, 20 seconds.
Do we recommend the Shrimp Butler? While it does make deveining and shelling easier, the degree to which it does so—saving our shrimp cleaner about 3 minutes per pound of shrimp—doesn’t seem worth the expense. The Shrimp Butler must also be taken apart and washed thoroughly, a process that takes several minutes. Washing a paring knife and your hands is much quicker.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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