Devein or deveining is the process of removing the black thread-like tract from the back of a prawn, shrimp, crayfish, or lobster with a small knife.
Although it is called deveining, it is actually not a vein at all.
It is the shrimp’s digestive tract, and when it is dark in colour it means it is filled with grit.
When cooking with smaller prawns that have a translucent-hued tract, deveining is unnecessary.
Crayfish and jumbo prawns often have a dark, sandy intestinal tract. See deveined prawns below.
You won’t fall ill from eating this if these aren’t removed, however, it’s recommended that you remove them, not only for cosmetic reasons, but also to avoid affecting the shrimp’s clean taste.
How To Devein Prawns
To devein prawns.
- Remove the head and legs. Peel the shells from the prawns. Squeeze then twist tail to remove it from the body.
- Use a small sharp knife to make a slit along the middle of the back to expose the dark vein. Pull out the vein.
To devein a prawn without cutting the back, use your fingers to carefully pull the vein through the opening at the head end to remove.
How To Peel And Devein Prawns with Gordon Ramsay
How To Devein A Crayfish
To devein a crayfish.
- With one hand, hold on to the tail while gently twisting it to remove from the body.
- Crack the shell gently by pinching toward the center. You just want to crack the shell, not crush it in small pieces.
- Remove the shell. Identify the vein, and remove.
Alternately, the meat and vein may be removed by twisting it from the shell. Grab the end of the tail and gently twist, removing the tail and vein at the same time.
How to devein a Crayfish without using any tools
Karin Louw showing a cool Mozambican trick to clean crayfish. (Also known as spiny rock lobster).