What Is Cilantro Shrimp?

A. Leverkuhn

Cilantro shrimp is a very broadly defined dish that involves putting the herb cilantro, also known as coriander, together with shrimp or prawns. This can be done in many different ways, by the majority of preparations of cilantro shrimp are relatively simple. Also, cooks around the world have developed some very common conventions for accomplishing this dish.


Experienced cooks can identify some of the most common flavor elements that usually accompany cilantro and shrimp dishes. One of these is citrus fruit; whether it’s lemons or limes, the citrus element is a very frequent inclusion in a dish that features cilantro and shrimp. Another very common addition is garlic, a superfood with a strong taste that can add a lot of flavor.

Shrimp and cilantro tacos.
Shrimp and cilantro tacos.

Aside from garlic, cooks might add powered spices to cilantro shrimp, or a similar dish. Salt and pepper are common ingredients, and the use of hot pepper flakes, small ground powders of dried pepper, or other similar ingredients, is common in many regions of the world including Spain, where the most common preparation of shrimp involves a simple mix of olive oil, garlic, and dried pepper flakes.

The use of olive oil is also a very common element of making this dish. However, other oils can be substituted for olive oil, for example, in upscale presentations focused on using lower fat oils. Butter can also be used to sauté the shrimp. In addition, cooks might use white wine or vinegar in the dish.

In most preparations of cilantro shrimp, prep work includes shelling and deveining the shrimp. Shrimp have a major digestive tract that runs near the back of the animal. Not all cooks devein shrimp, since it is thought that boiling effectively neutralizes harmful bacteria, but for the purposes of aesthetic presentation and overall culinary appeal, many cooks agree that deveining shrimp is very necessary. Shelling is necessary to eliminate problems with the texture of shrimp.

In addition to preparing shrimp for cilantro shrimp and other dishes, cooks need to be careful in actually cooking the shrimp, as shrimp cook very quickly. Some recipes call for a specific cooking time, such as 5 to 6 minutes. Other cooks will simply keep an eye on the coloration of the shrimp, and time the cooking intuitively. In either case, experienced cooks recommend against overcooking the shrimp, or trying to slow cook it, where overcooked shrimp can become tough and unappealing.

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