What is The Vein on The Underside of Shrimp

What is The Vein On The Underside of Shrimp? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Shari Mason

Shrimp is a delicious meal, but it’s not as easy to cook as fish. That’s because shrimp has something in them that needs to be removed before cooking.

So what is that vein on the underside of shrimp? And why do you have to remove it? We’ll answer these questions so you can cook your next batch of fresh-from-the-sea shrimp correctly.

What’s That Vein On the Underside of Shrimp? 

shrimp on a pan

The black vein on the underside of the shrimp is not actually a real vein but rather an intestinal tract full of unappetizing grit. [1] 

It is called the “sand vein” because it’s where the shrimp filter sand wastes out of its body.

There are two types of veins on shrimps, black and white.

The shrimp can be cooked with the white one, but it is recommended to remove it before cooking to avoid any health issues as it might contain bacteria.

Read: Can There Be Worms In Chicken Meat?

What Is It Called? 

The black vein at the bottom of shrimp is called the alimentary canal or the sand vein. It is part of the intestinal tract and should be removed because it is where wastes pass through.

The white vein on the inner side is the blood vessel (white because shrimp’s blood is white).

Read: How Long Is Ceviche Good For?

Do Shrimps Have Real Veins? 

No, shrimps have no veins because they have an open circulatory system. The veins on their underside (black and white) are not veins.

The black vein is part of the digestive system, and the white is a blood vessel. But in cooking, removing the black line is called deveining.

Do You Have to Remove It? 

Yes, you have to remove the black vein on the shrimp, especially if it is thick and full of grit. Those grits are shrimp’s body waste and contain bacteria.

Chefs and other cooks remove it for the sake of clean presentation and customer satisfaction.

How To Properly Devein Shrimps? 

hand holding shrimp

To properly devein shrimps, first peel them off. Then with a knife, make a shallow cut on its back. Using the tip of your knife, pull the black line off.

The easier way to devein the shrimp is with a skewer and without the need to cut its back. Just stick the skewer at the back (a few centimeters down its head) and pull it off.

What Will Happen If You Eat Shrimp That Isn’t Deveined? 

If you devein a shrimp, it will be cleaner and more pleasant to eat because you removed the intestinal tract, where all its body waste passes through.

While it can be safe to be eaten when cooked, if you plan to use shrimp on ceviche, it is important to remove the vein because it might contaminate the other ingredients.

The black veins contain bacteria from shrimp waste, which might get you sick if you eat a lot of it from raw shrimp. [2]


What is the black vein on the underside of a shrimp?

The black vein on the underside of a shrimp is not technically a vein. It is the shrimp’s intestinal tract where all body wastes pass through.

Do you devein both veins on shrimp?

No, you dont have to devein both veins on shrimp because the other vein (white vein) is just a blood vessel and doesn’t contain waste.

In A Nutshell 

In short, the vein on the underside of shrimp is not actually a vein. It is:

  • The shrimp’s intestinal tract is where the waste is consolidated.
  • It can be removed based on your preference.
  • It is only unsafe to eat if you plan to eat shrimp raw.
  • There are two veins in shrimps, and both aren’t real veins. The black is the intestinal tract, and the white is a blood vessel.


Shari Mason

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