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For Plump and Juicy Shrimp, Reach for the Baking Soda

By Paul Adams Published

A quick prep step keeps shrimp tender.

Long ago we learned that the reason meats dry out during cooking—even moist cooking—is because heat makes their muscle proteins clench together and squeeze out water. 

Acidity makes it worse—just try a vinegary marinade if you want tough, dry meat—but the corollary is that alkalinity mitigates the problem. So we often apply a mild baking soda solution to meat before cooking it.

In our Fisherman’s Pie, we use the same trick on shrimp, allowing them to stay plump and juicy throughout cooking. 

The baking soda raises the pH of the shellfish’s muscle, which alters the electric charge of the muscle protein. As a result, the muscle fibers stay slightly apart from each other instead of clenching together, and the moisture that’s between the fibers stays between the fibers. It’s ideal for a long cook like Fisherman’s Pie, which can otherwise tend to dry out the shrimp; but also works magic when shrimp is only briefly cooked, as in a stir-fry.

How To Do It

Thoroughly toss 1 pound of peeled shrimp with ¼ teaspoon baking soda in a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Then proceed with the rest of your recipe.

Recipe Fisherman's Pie

A chowder-like stew of fresh and smoked seafood capped with fluffy, bruléed mashed potatoes, fisherman’s pie is the isle’s ultimate comfort food. 

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.