What is the best size shrimp?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

When it comes to cooking shrimp for dishes like pasta, soup or stew, or salad, I find that medium to large shrimp, ranging from 41 to 35 shrimp per pound, are the ideal size. This size allows for easy consumption, as you can easily fork or spoon them up without any hassle.

The medium to large shrimp size provides a good balance between texture and taste. They are not too small that you need to constantly search for them in your dish, and not too large that they become overwhelming or difficult to incorporate into the overall dish.

I have tried using smaller shrimp in the past, such as the extra-small or small sizes, but found that they tended to get lost in the other ingredients or get overcooked easily. These smaller shrimp can easily become rubbery or tough if not cooked carefully, and their delicate flavor can get overwhelmed by stronger flavors in the dish.

On the other hand, jumbo-sized shrimp, while impressive in appearance, can sometimes be too large for certain dishes. They may require cutting or chewing, which can disrupt the overall eating experience and texture of the dish. Additionally, jumbo shrimp tend to be more expensive, which may not be ideal for those on a budget.

Medium to large shrimp provide a good balance between flavor, texture, and ease of consumption. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, whether it’s sautéed in garlic and butter for a pasta dish, added to a flavorful soup or stew, or tossed into a refreshing salad.

In my personal experience, I have found that medium to large shrimp work well in dishes like shrimp scampi pasta, where the shrimp is the star of the dish and needs to be easily enjoyed. Similarly, in a shrimp bisque or gumbo, the slightly larger size of the shrimp allows them to hold their own among the other ingredients and flavors.

It’s worth noting that the size of shrimp can vary depending on where you purchase them, so it’s always a good idea to consult with your local fishmonger or seafood supplier to ensure you’re getting the desired size. Additionally, personal preferences may vary, so feel free to experiment with different sizes to find what works best for you and your dishes.

When cooking shrimp for pasta, soup or stew, or salad, medium to large shrimp (ranging from 41 to 35 shrimp per pound) are the best size. They provide a good balance of flavor, texture, and ease of consumption, making them versatile and enjoyable in various dishes.