how to prepare shrimp for sushi

March 6, 2010

in basics,how-to

As I wrote in a previous post, I made sushi on Valentine’s day. I usually just use salmon and tuna for sushi, but since we were watching District 9, we decided to have shrimp (because they looks like “prawns” :D ) as well.

Shrimp is probably easier to get than a good block of  salmon and tuna sashimi, and it is also very easy to prepare it for sushi. I’m sure a lot of people cook shrimp at home, and the only difference between regular shrimp and shrimp for sushi is that shrimp for sushi is straight and flattened. I’m not even sure if you can call this a “recipe”, but I thought it’d be nice to know a little trick like this.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

[How to prepare shrimp for sushi]
- raw shrimp with shell (not cleaned or cooked)
- salt
– toothpicks
– skewers

*If you’re interested in making sushi rice from scratch, check out “How to make sushi rice.”

1. First you have to de-vein the shrimp. I usually use a toothpick instead of a knife. Stick a toothpick on about 1/4 inch from the back of shrimp between the first and second shell from the tail, and pull it outward.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

You probably don't get vein out here, but this is to cut the vein on the tail end to make it easier to pull the rest of it on the step 2.

2. Stick a toothpick on 1/4 inch from the back of shrimp, and slowly pull it outward.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

Stick a toothpick around the middle of shrimp's back.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

You can just do this without doing Step 1, and you'll be able to take the most vein out, but after doing Step 1 it feels like it's easier to remove more vein without getting cut off.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

I love pulling veins out of shrimp. It's so satisfying.

3. Wash the shrimp after removing the vein.

4. Stick a skewer straight into the shrimp. Don’t stick it through the tail. I cut a regular skewer in half and use it because you’ll use fewer skewers and it’s easier to fit in a pot that way. (If you’re using metal skewers, make sure you use a pot deep enough for the whole shrimp to submerge  in water.)

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

5. Put shrimp into boiling salted water, and cook it for a couple of minutes.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

You don't have to cook them for too long. Shrimp cooks pretty quick.

6. Drain the shrimp and let it cool off.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

7. Gently hold the shrimp in your hand and pull the skewer out as you twist it. Then remove the shell. You usually don’t remove the tail for shrimp sushi, but if you want to remove it, that’s fine too. The tail is just for a decoration.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

8. Cut the shrimp along the belly side. Be careful not to cut it all the way to the back. Flatten it and pat it dry.

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

And you have shrimp for sushi!

I’m certainly not a sushi chef, and I don’t really care how finished should sushi look. :P

How to prepare shrimp for sushi

Look how chunky my sushi is!

If you have problem shaping the sushi, you can make it into “temari-zushi.” Which means “hand ball sushi.” You can just put shrimp/fish on a piece of plastic wrap, and put a bit of rice on top and wrap it tightly to make it into a ball. Because they’re all same shape and tightly held together, temari-zushi is great for kids.

Shrimp sushi

Not the best looking sushi, but who cares, I'm the one who's eating it! :P

Half a pound (about two dozen medium shrimp) was under $5 at the market by our place. I live in Brooklyn, and I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper if you buy them at a real fish market. So even with the cost of rice, 20~24 pieces of sushi shrimp for somewhere around $ 6~7. Not too bad for a small party, huh?

How to prepare shrimp for sushi on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

*~kAy~*No Gravatar March 7, 2010 at 4:31 am

Thanks for sharing this! I always wondered how the shrimp doesn’t get all curled up! :P


Lia ChenNo Gravatar March 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm

The shrimp looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the tips on how to prepare it for sushi (^.^)


HeidiNo Gravatar March 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

That’s cool. I don’t think I’d be patient enough for the rice though. That plate of shrimp would last maybe 5 minutes. :)

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RachelleNo Gravatar March 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

GREAT post! Thanks so much for sharing this technique.


Adam B.No Gravatar April 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I would have never thought that all you needed was a tooth pick to keep those shrimp straight, learn something new everyday I guess ;)


Freda HiggsNo Gravatar October 7, 2011 at 3:35 am

I tried this once and found that the shrimp stuck to the toothpicks. Was quite a job getting them out. But will try again.


Corey RankinNo Gravatar July 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Try pre-soaking the toothpicks in water before skewering the shrimp.. It should make it easier!


MNo Gravatar April 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Mil gracias!! In Guatemala, where I live, we hardly every get sushi shrimp… Im experimenting with my first ever batch of sushi and this will come in handy. Thanks for posting!


Amram "Two Feathers"No Gravatar July 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

How do I eat a whole shrimp?; No the head though.


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