Cooking Shrimp in quick turn around food service environment

Joined Nov 1, 2016
Hi Chefs!

Apologies if this is the wrong part of the forum to post this. I'm seeking advice on the best way to cook shrimp where time is of the essence.

We currently have a very small cooking space and operate a street food style business but will soon be expanding a little and have a slightly larger cooking space and indeed more seating area. We currently only have seating for around 20 but this should more than double.

At the moment we pan fry the shrimp (Peeled, deveined and tail on. Size: U31-35) to order. After around a couple of minutes in the pan we add one of our pre-prepared sauces (garlic, curry, spicy mango) and serve. On a busy day with a single chef we can turn around 80-90 dishes. The total process takes around 3-4 minutes including plating up. If we have multiple orders things can get complicated or quality compromised.

So my question is, what other cooking techniques could be good for us to look in to? A couple of chefs I've spoken to suggested having a load of shrimp steamed and ready to go with the sauces warmed in a bain marie. Another idea I came across was to grill the shrimp on skewers (this would allow us to cook many more orders simultaneously) probably just 30 seconds per side and then drizzle the warmed sauces over them.

Appreciate any advice!


Joined Jul 28, 2018
Shrimp are about as quick turnaround as you can get. Really and truthfully they should be made to order. When I hear the words "steamed and ready to go" I think rubbery, bland, and flavorless. You might be able to boil them to near-cooked as part of the prep and keep them on ice but truthfully you're investing about as much time on the line doing it that way and the flavor is still compromised.

I would take some time trying different expo methodologies or space organization to try and clear up some of the errors taking place during the pop before justifying the need to degrade the quality of your product to save 30 seconds.

Otherwise, handing the shrimp over to grill would be a good compromise but I would tailor the flavoring to accent the qualities of the grill rather than keep the same menu items.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I agree with B BigCzech . Unless you want rubbery, flavorless shrimp, stay away from water and steam.

If shrimp is one of your eatery's attractions, NEVER compromise on quality, even if it means longer to get the order out and the kitchen gets backed up.

Having said that, shrimp are extremely fast items to cook and should always be cooked to order. Holding partially cooked shrimp for the sake of time conservation holds very little in the way of advantages and definitely does not justify the loss in product quality. Shrimp are one of those food items that customers use to judge the whole meal. "Yeah, my steak was ok, but, the shrimp sucked." You could give them a $200 piece of Kobe Beef and if the shrimp are not good, the whole meal is off.

I know, I exaggerate to make a point. :)

Remember, being backed up because your kitchen is busy is a great problem to have. It literally means your restaurant is busy and you are making money. As the owner/operator, it falls to you to find ways to streamline your operation without compromising the quality of your product.

Good Luck! :)
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I stopped at a real busy shrimp truck in Hawaii once. The reason why they're busy is because the shrimp is coming out of the pan fresh cooked and hot. Don't compromise quality when it's busy. Tell your customers it's busy and it will take a few minutes longer to get their quality shrimp fresh made hot right out of the pan. I bet no one will complain.......ChefBillyB
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I agree with fresh cooked to order. Warm sauces in a bain marie, plates at the ready, whatever else you can do. But fresh cooked shrimp is the attraction. A three to four minute turnaround is pretty good. I'll wait.
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