How to Clean and Devein Prawns
In this tutorial, we show you how to go about cleaning a batch of prawns. It’s not as difficult as you imagine.
Cleaning prawns doesn’t have to be a tedious or messy task. With a bit of organisation, you can get a batch done in no time, and with minimal cleaning-up to do after. As for tools, all you need is a pair of scissors. Apart from that, keep a bin or plastic bag ready to catch the discarded shells and a bowl for the clean prawns. Put on a playlist, podcast, or audiobook of your choice. This last step is optional, but you might as well be entertained while cleaning up some crustacean.
Now, coming to the anatomy of the prawn, consider the parts you want to keep, and those you want to throw away. We usually eat fleshy bits, and discard the shells and other scalier parts. For most Bengali dishes, including chingri malai curry and chingri bhaape, we leave the head and tail of the prawn intact—the head contains all the wonderful flavour and tasty, creamy goodness, while the tail adds a nice presentation detail.
TIME TAKEN 20 minutes for 500 g of prawns
- A pair of scissors
- A dish or bag for scraps
- A bowl or plate for clean prawns
- The snout
- The eyes
- The walking legs
- The shell
- The vein
- The body or the fleshy part
- The head (for flavour and taste)
- The tail (for presentation)
- Use your scissors and cut off the snout, which is located on the head of the prawn, between the eyes.
- Next, snip off the eyes.
- Gather together all the walking legs (can be found under the head) and snip them off with your scissors as well.
- Now, hold the prawn so that its head faces you, and its dorsal side is pointed upward. Cut through the shell along the (non-existent) spine of the prawn, from the head all the way to the tail.
- You should now be able to peel off the shell. If it gets stuck anywhere, give it a tug and it should come loose easily.
- Locate the vein along the spine of the prawn.
- Pull the vein out and discard it.
- You should now have a clean prawn, minus the shells and other pointy parts.
- This step is optional, but we don’t throw the scraps away. Place them in a pot of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and you now have a shrimp stock. Freeze them in ice trays and use the stock cubes while making shrimp fried rice or chingri malai curry for instant flavour-boost.