When I was little, I had no idea shrimp weren't readily available in their edible state. Sure, I knew you had to cook them, but I didn't realize that the heads, shells, and intestines were normally removed before consumption. I learned later, as a 20-year-old, how to properly peel the delicious shellfish. This is a skill every home cook should master, so I've put together an easy to follow step-by-step explanation. It can be applied to both raw and cooked shrimp. To get started, click the start button.
Hold the shrimp's head in between your thumb and index finger. With your other hand, hold the shrimp's body.
Gently twist the shrimp's head, breaking it off with your index finger. It should come off easily. If desired, save the heads to make fish stock. Otherwise, discard.
Next remove the tail. Hold the tail like you did the head, in between your thumb and index finger. With the same sort of quick twisting motion, remove the tail. Throw away.
Once the head and tail have been removed, peel the rest of the shell off the shrimp. Hold the shrimp between your two hands. Dig the nail of one thumb under the shell. Crack it off of the shrimp.
Continue to peel the shell off until the entire shrimp is clean of any crunchy, pink shell.
If desired, run a small paring knife along the back outer side of the shrimp to remove the intestines (the black dot seen here). While most restaurants perform this step, it is not necessary.
Voila! A perfectly peeled shrimp ready for eating.