Stuffed shrimp is a seafood meal typically made from sliced and cooked shrimp filled with cooked vegetables, bread, and sometimes other chopped seafood such as crab meat. Different recipe versions are typically associated with various geographic areas, and many home cooks have their own traditional stuffed shrimp ingredients. Cooking with shrimp for this dish tends to have the best results when fresh large shrimp are selected and correctly sliced in order to hold enough stuffing. Methods of cooking stuffed shrimp can also vary from baking to deep frying depending on the recipe instructions as well as individual preferences.
A first step to cooking with shrimp for this recipe is usually peeling, deveining, and slicing the shrimp lengthwise along the underside; this type of cutting is called butterflying the shrimp. Each shrimp should be sliced nearly through but not quite to its opposite side. This allows enough space for the stuffing, and leaving the outer shell of the tail on each shrimp helps prevent the stuffing from coming out during the cooking process. Roughly one to two tablespoons of stuffing are usually added to each shrimp.
The filling for stuffed shrimp can be made from a scratch recipe or partially from a packaged stuffing mix. The simplest versions call for dicing some vegetables such as celery, onions, and carrots before cooking them in some butter until softened. Some cooks prefer to add other vegetables such as shallots or mushrooms. The vegetables are then stirred into the finished stuffing mix and usually seasoned with salt, black pepper, or sometimes garlic powder. Crushed crackers or small cubes of bread can also be used as an alternative to a stuffing mix.
Cooks who like this shrimp recipe with additional seafood ingredients will often add shredded crab meat or chopped pieces of scallop to the shrimp stuffing. These ingredients are usually added to the cooking vegetables and stuffing mixture in a stove top skillet with butter. Many cooks recommend only cooking this type of seafood stuffing over medium heat to avoid drying out the scallops or crab.
Baked stuffed shrimp is one of the more popular recipe versions of this dish; the shrimp are usually placed in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet with the stuffing facing upwards. They are then browned at approximately 325° F (about 163° C) for 20 to 25 minutes. An alternative technique is to roll each shrimp in bread crumbs until well-coated and then to drop each into an oil-filled deep fryer for a few minutes.