Before cooking a whole prawn, it is worth removing the vein – this is the black line that runs down the back of a shelled prawn, which is their intestinal tract.
Although not harmful to eat, it can give an unpleasant flavour and muddy texture, and some prefer to remove it before cooking.
Here is how to devein the prawn:
Step 1: Remove the long thin legs by holding them together, and then use a sharp pair of scissors to cut them.
Step 2: You can also remove the antennas using the same pair of scissors.
Step 3: Hold the prawn delicately, and run your scissors into the shell, starting near the head, and make a small slit into the shell.
Step 4: Once you have made the initial slit, run your scissors gently along the centre of the shell, until you reach near the tail. You may leave a small segment by the tail without cutting it.
Step 5: Gently roll a knife down the prawn where it has already been split, and using your fingers, open the prawn by the slit shell.
Step 6: You should now find the black line, the intestinal tract, which can now easily be removed using the nib of the sharp knife, and then use your fingers to pull it out of the prawn.
Step 7: Pass your knife through to the end of the head where it joins onto the body, press the body down and cut straight.
Step 8: Once the head has been removed, remove the shell by pulling the body meat away from the shell. Ensure this is done gently so that the meat does not rip.
Step 9: You can leave the tail segment in its shell for a lovely aesthetic. However, if you wish for the prawn to be fully peeled, then pass your knife through the tail and detach the tail from the prawn.