Do I Steam or Boil Shrimp?

stir fry prawns in spicy asian food pineapple and herbs sauce


The paradox of shrimp is that they are so easy to cook, yet so easy to mess up. Whether steamed, boiled, roasted or grilled, the only surefire way to ruin your shrimp dish is to overcook them -- and it happens fast! For tender, flavorful results, it's not necessarily the method that matters, it's your timing.

Steaming vs. Boiling Shrimp

Both steaming and boiling can result in moist, tender shrimp as long as you don't overcook them -- which is easy to do, especially when boiling shrimp. The trick is to bring the water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer before adding your shrimp. In essence, you are poaching them rather than boiling them. Using either technique, expect 1 pound of shrimp to cook in less than five minutes; begin checking after two minutes, and remove from the heat when they turn pink and the flesh is opaque.

Roasting Shrimp

For a totally different -- yet just as easy -- take on shrimp, try roasting them. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, toss peeled, deveined shrimp with olive oil and the seasonings of your choice, and roast them on a baking sheet in a single layer for about eight minutes, or until just done. Proponents of roasting shrimp say it results in a deeper, more-concentrated shrimp flavor than the more traditional methods of steaming or boiling.