Here's How To Properly Butterfly Shrimp, According To Jamie Oliver

Love him or hate him, Jamie Oliver knows his way around a kitchen. According to The Spruce Eats, he began working in his parents' restaurant in 1986 when he was just 8 years old. Fast-forward to 2021, Oliver has become the chef celebrity we know today, having written several cookbooks and starred in TV shows like The Naked Chef and Oliver's Twist. So, you may opt-out of taking some of his advice, like putting chorizo in paella, but his trick to tackling shrimp seems like a safe bet.

According to a post from Oliver on Twitter, the best way to butterfly prawns is to run a knife down their backs, and then remove the vein. He also posted a short video demonstrating his method, and followers all noticed one thing: the knife he used was huge! Comments like "Me: uses peeling knife. Jamie: only a katana will do." captured the sentiment comically, while one follower summed it up nicely with a gif of Crocodile Dundee's iconic "This is a knife" moment. Whatever size knife you go for, Oliver stresses that you should use it "carefully!"

But, beyond the size of your knife, there are some other considerations when preparing shrimp.

Heads or tails? And should you leave on shells?

There is nothing quite like digging into a pile of peel 'n eat shrimp on a hot day, and as the name suggests, when you order a plate of these scrumptious shellfish, you know you're going to have to go to work and get a little dirty, but it will be oh-so-worth-it. Of course, peel 'n eat shrimp still has the shell on, but how do you know which parts of the shrimp to leave on?

According to Serious Eats, leaving the shrimp shells on can actually be an easier way to prepare them, since the shells lock in flavor and help guard against overcooking. Deciding to remove them might have more to do with your audience. If splashed-with-shrimp-juice isn't the look your guests are going for, then you might want to avoid serving shell-on shrimp at a fancy affair.

It turns out the tail conundrum also has a little something to do with aesthetics. The Kitchn explained that tails make a better presentation, i.e. Instagram pic, but tail-less shrimp are a little easier to eat. Getting back to Mr. Oliver's tweet, he also mentioned that the head of the prawn has most of the flavor. As it turns out, eating shrimp withOUT the heads is an American thing. According to the New Yorker, we find it unappetizing to look at those insect-like eyes and wispy, long feelers. But, if you're feeling worldly, go ahead and cook them head-on!