Menu
Search
Menu
Close

June/July 2015

Shrimp Peeling Tools

We tested five new tools that promised to make the chore of shelling shrimp and removing their veins easier.

How We Tested

Shelling shrimp and removing their veins can be laborious. We typically use a knife to slice the shell, pry it off with our fingers, and then use the knife’s tip to fish out the vein. But we found five new tools that promised to make this chore easier and faster.

We tested these five, priced from roughly $6 to $17, against our winning seafood scissors, The RSVP International Endurance Seafood Scissors. They’re only about $8 and have been handy in the past for shelling shrimp, crab, and lobster, so we wanted to see how they’d compare with shrimp-specific tools. We also included our winning paring knife: Because we can shell shrimp with a knife, a tool had to be significantly faster, easier, and better at the task to earn our favor.

We shelled piles of small, medium, and large shrimp, removing the shells and veins and leaving the tails on as you would for shrimp cocktail. We timed how long it took each tool to shell 10 of each size shrimp and considered how easy they were to use, how precisely they severed the shells, how the shrimp looked afterward, and how versatile they were with small, medium, and large shrimp.

We saw it all—the good (perfectly shelled shrimp), the bad (flimsy, faulty models), and the ugly (shrimp so mangled that when we cooked them into our fiery Cook's Illustrated Shrimp Fra Diavolo, they looked like squid). The six tools came in four different styles. The first and worst style is what testers called the “expansion” model. These tools get inserted between the shell and the meat and expand, pushing the two apart so that you can pull off the shell. These were a failure. At best, they didn’t pull off the whole shell or lacked a sharp tip to fish out the vein. At worst, they shredded the meat to ribbons.

The second style was shaped like a two-tined fork; testers fit one tine between the shell and the meat and pushed back toward the tail. This was supposed to sweep the shell and vein off and did so quite quickly, but it marred the meat and broke the shell and vein into pieces that were time-consuming to pluck out.

Two deveiners came in a third design that looked like a paring knife with a curved blade. The top edge is sharp and you thread it between the shell and the meat and pull upward, cutting off the shell. One model had a dull, serrated plastic blade that marred the meat and couldn’t get through the shell efficiently. The second was supersharp and precise, but it wasn’t any faster than a paring knife.

The fourth and sole successful style was our trusty pair of seafood scissors, which look just like regular scissors but have curved blades. Their arch fit tidily inside shrimp large and small, and because we snipped away the shell instead of dragging it off, it was precise and efficient, splaying open the meat so we could pluck out the entire vein with a single tug. On average, the scissors were 32 percent faster than a paring knife—which translates to roughly 5 minutes of prep time saved per 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp. If you eat lots of shrimp, crab, or lobster, at about $8 a pair, our winning seafood scissors would be a worthy addition to your kitchen arsenal.

Register for CooksCountry.com

It's FAST and it's FREE.The page you requested is only available to registered users of CooksCountry.com.

Why Register? Unlock FREE ACCESS to recipes and ratings from the current season of the Cook's Country TV television show.

The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.