Precooked shrimp can make life easy on you by providing a quick protein to add to a wide variety of dishes. How you prepare your cooked shrimp with the meal will depend on whether that shrimp is refrigerated or frozen to start with. Keeping cooked shrimp in the freezer helps it last longer so you can keep it on hand for any time you need an easy meal.
Thawing Precooked Shrimp
Most frozen shrimp comes with a recommendation that you thaw the shrimp first, but you can also cook it from frozen if you don't mind it getting a bit overdone to ensure proper temperatures on the inside. For small to medium shrimp, place them in a strainer and run cold tap water over them for several minutes. This keeps the temperature below 40 degrees and helps wash away some of the freezer taste as the shrimp thaws out. This should take about 10 minutes, unless you are using a large amount. Thaw large shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. For salads and other cold dishes, just add thawed shrimp to your favorite recipes. For cooked shrimp that were never frozen, just rinse and add them into your meal. Microwave thawing is not the best way to thaw shrimp, because it leads to uneven temperatures and a potentially rubbery texture.
Cooking from Frozen
Small shrimp can be cooked from the frozen state, but you must get the temperature from below 40 degrees to above 140 quickly to keep bacteria from growing. If you choose this method to heat previously cooked shrimp, stir-fry them quickly or add them to already-simmering soups a little at a time so as not to drop the overall soup temperature. Serve it immediately after cooking.
Hot Dish Ideas
Some kids love the little curls of shrimp, but others may balk at the texture or the "fishy" taste. If you have a balker, marinate the cooked shrimp in your child's favorite sauce overnight, then cook them in that same sauce. Even if you have to use separate sauces for each family member, this can be quick and easy. Just have each kid pour the bowl of marinated shrimp and sauce into a fry pan and watch or help with a quick stir-fry, or pour the shrimp over cooked rice and heat them in the microwave. For older kids, try disguising the fish taste with more exotic seasonings, like Indian, Asian or Mexican spices. Serve shrimp tacos with your usual taco seasonings and fixings, or teriyaki-style stir-fried shrimp and veggies.
Cold Dish Ideas
Aside from adding shrimp to green salads, you can serve thawed cooked shrimp with toothpicks and a variety of dipping sauces and dressings; the fun factor can outweigh the "ew" for some picky kids. Chop up cooked shrimp and use them in place of tuna in tuna salads. Give your kids fun and healthy shrimp cocktails by filling dessert glasses with alternating layers of shrimp, cucumbers or celery, and citrus fruits, either drizzled with their favorite sauce or dressing, or with the dressing on the side. For grownup family members or kids with grownup tastes, use grapefruit in place of sweeter fruits and use avocado as the vegetable, if desired.
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Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.