Shrimp are swimming crustaceans with long narrow muscular abdomens and long antennae. Unlike crabs and lobsters, shrimp are more adapted for swimming than walking. They look somewhat like small lobsters, but not like crabs. There are thousands of species, but only a few types are sold commercially. More shrimp are farmed today than harvested in the wild. The most widely cultured species in the world are:
Giant shrimp, (Penaeus monodon), typically 25–30 cm (10–12 in) long, 200–320 g (7–11 oz).
Whiteleg shrimp, (Litopenaeus vannamei), 23 cm (9.1 in).
Smoking the delicate shrimp presents a problem as they are cooked within minutes. Put shrimp in boiling water 212° F (100° C) and they’ll be done in about 3 minutes. If they are overcooked, they’ll have a rubbery texture. Heat transfer in air is much slower than in water so the cooking time in a smokehouse must be extended. Smoking shrimp for 10 minutes in preheated to 212° F (100° C) smokehouse will cook them.
Note: if your smokehouse can maintain the temperature of 180° F (82° C) use the hot smoking method, otherwise boil the shrimp and cold smoke.
Hot Smoked Shrimp
- Peel shrimp.
- Brine shrimp for 3 minutes in 50º brine. (Add 1.26 lbs of salt to 1 gallon of water. This makes 50 degrees brine).
- Drain and pat dry.
- Dip in oil. Drain. Place on a wire screen.
- Preheat smokehouse to 100° F (38° C) and dry the shrimp without smoke for 30 minutes.
- Increase temperature to 180° F (82° C) and apply a heavy smoke for 30 minutes.
Cold Smoked Shrimp
- Peel shrimp
- Boil for 3 minutes, depending on a size, in a 40º brine (10 per cent salt solution), (add 1.0 lb of salt to 1 gallon of water. This makes 40 degrees brine).
- Drain and dry for 1 hour.
- Brush or dip shrimp in oil and spread on wire screens.
- Smoke for 60 minutes at 85° F (30° C).
Smoked Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce