Dried Shrimp

Preparation info

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Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

By A D Livingston

Published 2010

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For this method of drying shrimp, I am indebted to Frank G. Ashbrook, author of Butchering, Processing and Preservation of Meat. Although shrimp of any size can be dried, the smaller ones work best and are less desirable for the market or other methods of home use. People who have tried to peel enough tiny shrimp to stay ahead of their appetite will see the advantage!

For best results, start with very fresh shrimp. Wash these and bring to a quick boil in salted water, using 1 cup per ½ gallon of water. (Do not try to boil too many shrimp at the same time because they will lower the temperature of the water.) Boil the shrimp for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size. Drain the shrimp and spread them in the sun to dry. If bugs are a problem, rig a way to cover the shrimp with a fine-meshed screen. The shrimp can be rather crowded, but should not form a layer more than 1 inch deep.

For the first day, the shrimp should be turned every half hour. At night or during a rain, remove them to a dry, well-ventilated place; do not merely cover the shrimp with a tarpaulin or other direct covering. If you are really into drying, it’s best to build movable trays with wire or slat bottoms; then the whole tray can be taken inside at night or during a rain. In most areas, you’ll also need a screen cover to keep the flies off the shrimp, or perhaps to keep the seagulls away.

Drying small shrimp will require 3 days in sunny weather, longer if the days are short of sun and wind. When the shrimp are dry and hard, place them in a cloth sack. Beat the sack with a board. This will break the shells. Then winnow the shrimp in a sifting box, made with a wooden frame and ¼-inch mesh. The bits of shell will fall through, leaving the dry shrimp meat on top. This will be much smaller and lighter than the original. In fact, 100 pounds of shrimp will shrink down to 12 pounds of meat. The dried shrimp can be put into jars and stored in a dry place.

The dried shrimp can be used in soups and stews that will be cooked for some time, or they can be freshened by soaking in water for several hours. Freshened shrimp can be dusted with flour and fried or sautéed in butter, or they can be eaten raw as appetizers.

Asian and regional Mexican cuisines make good use of dried shrimp, which can be purchased in some ethnic markets. Usually, the shrimp are dried with the aid of salt. In addition to shrimp, the Chinese also dry and market oysters, squid, sea cucumbers, and even jellyfish. Scallops are sometimes air-dried.