Frozen shrimp can be a lifesaver when it comes to last-minute dinners. This quick-cooking crustacean will retain its quality in your freezer for up to 3 months and can turn from icy to succulent in under 20 minutes. Almost all commercial shrimp is frozen before it's shipped, so there's no reason not to keep a bag on hand in your freezer instead of purchasing it already thawed from the seafood counter. When purchasing frozen shrimp, look for raw specimens, which tend to have a higher quality than pre-cooked shrimp.
Thawing the shrimp beforehand ensures that the shrimp cooks evenly and thoroughly, without becoming rubbery in some places and undercooked in others. While thawing the shrimp overnight in the refrigerator is the preferred method, it's just not feasible for a last-minute meal. Luckily, you can thaw shrimp in as little as 10 minutes. Simply remove the shrimp from their package and dump them into a colander in the sink. Place the colander under cold running water until the shrimp are no longer hard, about 10 minutes for smaller varieties and 15 minutes for larger shrimp.
Oven baking is a simple, hands-off method for preparing frozen shrimp. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the thawed shrimp in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet coated with melted butter. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. If you wish, you can add flavorful ingredients like minced garlic, chopped parsley or dill, lemon zest or white wine to the pan. Top the shrimp with a few tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs for a crispy coating. Bake the shrimp until they're pink and opaque, about 15 minutes for medium shrimp and 18 minutes for large shrimp.
Sauteing shrimp is quick and simple, an easy preparation for when you need dinner on the table in a hurry. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over high heat. While the pan heats, sprinkle the thawed shrimp with salt and pepper. You can also season the shrimp with dried herbs and spices like garlic, parsley or cayenne pepper. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the shrimp to the skillet. Cook the shrimp, stirring frequently, until they just become opaque, about 3 minutes for medium shrimp and 5 minutes for large shrimp. If you wish, you can sprinkle the shrimp with chopped fresh herbs like dill, chives or parsley before serving.
Boiling is perhaps the simplest method of cooking shrimp. Simply bring a large pot salted of water to a rolling boil -- 4 cups of water for every 1 pound of shrimp. Place the thawed shrimp in the pot, return the water to a boil, then cover. Cook the shrimp until they just turn pink and opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes for medium shrimp, 5 to 6 minutes for large shrimp and 7 to 8 minutes for jumbo shrimp.