marmalady, I'm aware of the sizing thing, I'm just wondering if the larger shrimp at a substantially higher price are better tasting. In my area, we're pretty much limited to the pre-cooked frozen type, and the 40-60 ones don't have a strong shrimp taste in my opinion. If the larger ones had a stronger shrimp taste, I would buy them.
Oh - duh - sorry, Ottor! Sometimes people say the bigger ones are 'tougher', but IMHO, I think it's just that they've been cooked too long.
As far as taste, it may be the 'type' of shrimp rather than the size that determines the actual taste. IE, those black 'tiger shrimp', I don't think have much taste at all. But the 'pink' shrimp and 'white' shrimp that come from the Gulf are really sweet tasting; and our Carolina Creek shrimp - now those are just awesome!
Most of the shrimp on sale in inland markets has been frozen (or frozen and thawed). This is not always the case with shrimp sold with its head intact, but if the flesh is opaque rather than translucent, it probably has been frozen. The flesh inside the shell shrinks as the shrimp gets older, so avoid those with loose shells. Shrimp should not, of course, smell of ammonia or fish; they should simply smell clean & fresh. Color really isn't an indication of quality: shrimp can be pale pink, red, translucent with green, white, or blueish tinge.
Jumbo shrimp are the most expensive -- yet they are generally less sweet than smaller shrimp and can sometimes be tough. But they are easier to prepare because there is less shelling required. Be certain not to overcook shirmp! They easily toughen or become peculiarly woolly in texture.
The smaller shrimp, with the heads, on can sometimes be found at bargain prices; but remember to take into account the heads when comparing weight/prices. (Save the heads & tails to add to stock.)
Thanks marmalady and Konditor. Being pretty much dead center in the continent and out in the woods, my choice is pretty much limited to the cooked/frozen shrimp with just the little tails on (Singleton seems to be the primary brand). I've noticed that the larger ones seem a bit chewier (though not objectionably so) even when carefully cooked. In my opinion, the larger ones also didn't have a stronger shrimp taste than the small ones, but I wanted check out what others thought. All in all, the shrimp I can get here are very much a disappointment to what I could get when I lived in California.
Simply a case of supply and demand. The larger shrimps are in more demand, especially by professional chefs, because they require less labor to prepare than smaller shrimp. In other words, it's quicker to shell and devein a u-15 shrimp than it is to shell and devein two shrimp that's half the size. Add to that the fact that there's just fewer large shrimp in the ocean and the net result is high prices.
There are so many things you can do with absolutely huge shrimp. The largest shrimp we get at work are 8/12 count. Basically, those shrimp weigh anywhere from 1 1/2 - 2 ounces EACH! They're about the size of my fingers, maybe bigger. You can stuff these things if you're carefull.
I, too, do not relish the thought of peeling a lot of small shrimp. Luckily, I can buy a 2# bag of 40/50 count peeled and deveined shrimp at work for about $13. That's quite a bit of shrimp!
Look around for the best deals on shrimp. You might want to look in the freezer section of a local grocery store, and see if they have any 5# boxes of frozen shrimp, which is how most shrimp is sold, even to restaurants. Be sure to read the label, to get size (16/20 is a good size for home use), whether they're peeled, deveined, head-on, head-off, etc. I actually found a good source of these, of all places, at a Chinese grocery store. They were actually selling restaurant products retail to the public.