How to Make Frozen Shrimp Even Faster (and More Delicious)

My cousins and I used to dare one another to touch the shrimp, their 10 legs dancing, their antennae waving. At the Chinese seafood restaurants near us in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, the servers would bring our orders, still alive, to the table for approval before taking them into the kitchen. In Cantonese cuisine, feisty fish and crustaceans are prized for their delicate freshness.

The best shrimp would be gently boiled whole and served with a soy dipping sauce laced with hot chiles. Their heads had a sweet sea-saltiness, and their bodies were somehow snappy and silky at the same time. Anyone who’s lived in a coastal area with access to shrimp so fresh it’s still flipping knows this pleasure.

Recipe: Shrimp and Asparagus Stir Fry

Without access to live shrimp, the next best option is actually frozen. When thawed properly, then tossed with crisp-tender asparagus and sweet onion in this stir-fry, they taste pretty great. Here are four simple steps to making frozen shrimp end up as bouncy and flavorful as their counterparts fresh out of the water.

Buy the right shrimp.

Out of the water, shrimp, especially ones with their heads on, deteriorate quickly, so headless ones flash frozen at or close to the source best retain their integrity. (The “fresh” shrimp at most seafood counters most likely arrived frozen, and you don’t know when or how it was thawed or, worse, refrozen and thawed again.)

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