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Frozen shrimp (Recipe: Blazing hot shrimp) {gluten-free}

Blazing hot shrimp #glutenfree

No matter where or how hard you look, you will not find a fresh shrimp anywhere in Rhode Island.

Lobster? Yes. Scallops? Of course. Clams? Dig them yourself, on the beach.

Shrimp? Nope, not a one.

New England may be famous for its shellfish, but our waters are too cold for shrimp (oh, you lucky, lucky folks who live in California or near the Gulf of Mexico!), so whether I buy shrimp at the best fishmonger in town or at the local supermarket, I'm buying frozen shrimp.

And because that local market is ten miles from my house, I keep a few bags of shrimp of different sizes in my freezer.

Shrimp is sized by the number per pound; the smaller the number, the larger the shrimp. Recipes, on the other hand, often call for "medium" or "large". Large could be 16-20 per pound, or 26-30 per pound. The largest, 8 or fewer per pound, are undeniably jumbo. To me, the smallest, 51 or more per pound, are undeniably flavorless.

The best way to find good quality frozen shrimp is to buy from a reputable fish market. Often the shrimp they sell cooked, in the display case, is the same shrimp they sell frozen, so ask for a taste. If the shrimp looks watery or tastes of iodine, it does not mean that it's bad, but the iodine taste can be overpowering.


Please do not buy pre-cooked frozen shrimp. It's so easy to cook them yourself, and pre-cooked shrimp are almost always waterlogged when defrosted.

Defrost shrimp according to the package instructions. Place the shrimp directly from the freezer into a bowl of cold water in the sink; as soon as the shrimp are slightly flexible, you can peel and, if necessary, devein them. Cook for no more than 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink, curled, and no longer translucent. Overcook, and you've made rubber.

Most often I stock two-pound bags of 21-25 (large) and 31-40 (medium). Do you keep frozen shrimp in your pantry?

Blazing hot shrimp

Serve this with slices of crusty bread; you won't want to leave a bit of the spicy oil behind. If you prefer, make the dish less spicy by using half of the jalapeño. Serves 6.


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-1/4 lbs large shrimp (21-25 size), peeled and deveined
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
Pinch of smoked paprika (pimenton), sweet or bittersweet
Pinch of sea salt, to taste


Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan or cassrole until quite hot, then add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp, jalapeño and smoked paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp are no longer translucent, turn pink and begin to curl. Season to taste with salt, and serve hot, with bread to soak up the spicy oil.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Rice stick noodle salad
Pineapple shrimp curry
Shrimp etoufee
Green shrimp curry
New England shrimp boil
Hot and sour shrimp soup

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I keep frozen shrimp in my pantry at all times. I prefer the raw with only the tail on - I HATE shelling and deveining shrimp. (Especially the deveining part.) If I'm making a stir fry, or sauteeing the shrimp, I don't thaw it before I use it. I saw Giada de Laurentis make shrimp sauteed in oil with lemon - she threw the shrimp in to sautee, and they were cooked in minutes. It's delicious that way.

Whole Foods sells wild caught shrimp that has been frozen and then thawed. I don't know what the difference is between that and regular old frozen shrimp, but the Whole Foods shrimp is delicious.

I love the bowl you put the shrimp in - great presentation!


I love the smoked paprika in this dish! I think I need to start experimenting more with that.

The only time I find fresh shrimp (here in Boston) is the Maine variety in the winter. Otherwise it's frozen, or previously frozen.

Judy, I'm with you -- I always buy the peeled and deveined. I'm willing to sacrifice a little texture for convenience.

Lydia, I don't keep much frozen food in my freezer because it's not too big and I need room for ice creams now. :D
But I have cooked with frozen shrimp many times, because the hubby loves it!

We do keep frozen shrimp on hand. If you've got shrimp, rice and a few veggies, you've got dinner. Great tips.

Lydia, living in North Carolina, we have do have access to fresh local shrimp at times and that's what I buy when it is available. Otherwise, Trader Joe has those wonderful frozen shrimp with tails attached. They make great quick stir frys and I have yet to find a bad batch. I have an aversion to buying farm raised or prefrozen shrimp that have been defrosted even at the best of markets. There is an iodine odor to them that is offensive to me and I wonder how long they have been defrosted.

Beautiful shrimp dish Lydia! Make mine the full jalapeño please.

Ecological issues with Southeast Asian shrimp farms worry me: both because of food safety and because of environmental destruction. It's painful to read about the disaster -- a shrimp farm utterly ruins a wetland and is then abandoned. New clean land has to be opened up for farming, repeating the mess. The shrimp may uptake undesirable substances etc.

I agree with the valuation of Whole Foods shrimp (first comment) -- they thaw them and put them in their display case, but if you ask, they'll sell you the still-frozen ones from the same supply. This means you can thaw them at the last minute when you need them, or cook them still frozen. Using still-frozen or just-thawed gives a much better result because they are REALLY fresher if not thawed for several hours. When in season, Whole Foods also sometimes has Louisiana wild-caught shrimp.

I have a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer right now! Guess what is for dinner tonight!!

for a straight up "Parrothead experience" boil the shrimp in a bottle of Corona, water and a dash of Old Bay! Put on a CD and enjoy with "Cape Cod" brand cocktail sauce!

Frozen shrimp is a perfectly fine product and even in areas where it's abundant, people freeze it to have in the off season.

The plate, the shrimp, the pimenton, the simplicity...all in!

Looks delicious and easy. I have bread. I have shrimp. We have dinner.


Would you share information about the green serving dish. It's fabulous.

It does seem to easy to whip out a great meal if you have frozen shrimp handy! Thanks Lydia!

I still think that the smallest shrimps we have here (in the netherlands) is also the one with the most flavour! We call it Dutch shrimps as I am not sure you can find them anywhere else. They're not very attractive to look at but very very tasty.. So small doesn't necessarily mean tasteless! (but then again; I have never tasted them after being frozen)

Thanks for the perspective on frozen versus non. It probably is fresher and I never thought about that. I think I'll actually try using frozen for the first time next recipe I use for shrimp. Which may be this recipe because I looooove heat. Thanks Lydia!

Judy, peeling and deveining is tedious, isn't it? I've had Whole Foods shrimp, which is good, but our closest WF is quite close to a very good fishmonger, and I like to buy my fish at the fish store when I can.

Julia, I have all three "levels" of smoked paprika (sweet, bittersweet and hot) in my pantry. It's really fun to experiment with them.

Patricia, shrimp in the freezer is a lifesaver for me -- you can always make something elegant at the last minute!

Karina, you're so right. Sounds like a bit of shrimp fried rice to me!

Louise, I really notice that iodine taste (and smell) of some previously frozen shrimp. We just got Trader Joe's here in Rhode Island, and I haven't tried their shrimp yet. Will do.

MyKitchen, full heat for me, too....

Mae, thanks for raising the issues about food safety. And also for the tip about Whole Foods and frozen shrimp. I'll inquire at our local market about that.

Carol, that sounds delicious!

Peter, many thanks. I'm a shrimp addict and can eat them like candy, and the more heat, the merrier.

Lonebaker, the plate is marked "West Bend" and is melamine, but I don't know more than that. My husband found three of them, in different colors, at a yard sale. I have dozens of melamine bowls and serving plates from the 1950s, so this fit right in.

Hillary, frozen shrimp are an absolute must in my pantry. I'm never without them.

Simone, I've never heard of Dutch shrimp, and now must go look it up (I can't imagine that they are not attractive!). Thanks so much.

Melissa, frozen is really the only option here in the Northeast, and the quality varies widely depending on the source. If you love heat, you will love this dish.

That is a blazing hot photo! Gorgeous - wish I had some shrimp in the freezer, and wasn't such a wimp about hot food!

Yes, we have fresh shrimp here everyday of the week. I have never bought frozen. But I love this recipe and the hotness factor!

Frozen shrimp are a last minute meal saver. I stock up when our grocery has them buy one get two free! Shrimp stir fry over rice is one of my favorite easy meals.

Lydia, you are killing me with this shrimp dish, I love shrimp so much, yours look like they are about to jump out of that plate (and into my mouth). LOL.

I always have frozen shrimp in my freezer, and I live in CA, and they are still frozen. Unless I eat the live ones at Chinese restaurant. By the way, have you tried Santa Barbara spot prawns. To die for.

Love the recipe!

We can only get frozen here too - in fact most of the seafood here is frozen.
That's what I get for living in the suburbs nowhere near an ocean!
I love shrimp - the hotter, the better!

TW, thank you. I've been working so hard on improving my photography here. We must keep working on that aversion to spicy food. I keep thinking about all the wonderful foods I missed for the many years before I learned to love the heat. Now, life without it would be unthinkable!

Noble Pig, I'm jealous, jealous, jealous!

April, same here. I'm lucky to have an extra fridge with a small freezer, so I have room for a few bags of shrimp when they're on sale.

RM, that's how I feel about the shrimp dishes on your blog, too. I love pretty much anything with shrimp!

Natashya, this dish had quite a kick to it (high proportion of jalapeno to shrimp!). I wouldn't tone it down a bit if you like hot food.

That photo is killing me, I can't decide what to drool over...the shrimp or the cute dish.

Love this recipe. I've always heard spicy food is good for trying to lose a few pounds, which my Wii Fit tells me, is something I need to do :-( Luckily, my husband brought home a bunch of hot peppers from the grocery as a splurge---now I know just what to do with some of them!

Pam, I wish I had this dish in every color in the rainbow! I do have a yellow-ish one and a salmon-colored one, but it's hard to find food that looks good in them. I'm keeping my eye out for more at the local yard sales.

Sandie, my Wii Fit is very judgmental, too. Save some of the hot peppers -- I'm posting a spicy barbecue sauce in a couple of weeks that will knock your socks off.

At long last, a recipe for my fave shrimp! I'm so bored with a grilled or buttered shrimp. Your recipe is something new that I'll surely enjoy sharing with my buddy. Oh, this is the time to experiment and enhance my cooking skills.

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