What is The Vein on The Underside of Shrimp

What is The Vein On The Underside of Shrimp? Answered

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Shari Mason

Being a part of experiences centered around food, I’ve had the privilege of observing the preparation of fresh shrimp in different culinary settings. The process of cooking shrimp carries more complexity relative to fish cooking, owing to the deveining process, but nonetheless leads to a tasty meal.

I raised a query about it, and the chefs’ passionate response highlighted the shared understanding of what is the vein on the underside of shrimp and if you should remove it.

Read on, 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 an actual vein but rather an intestinal tract full of unappetizing grit. [1] It is called the “sand vein” because it’s where the sand passes out of its body.

“Shrimp, by nature, is tough to cook because it cooks so fast.”

-Paul Kita, Writer

The shrimp can be cooked with the white one, but removing it using a very sharp paring knife before cooking is recommended to avoid health issues as it might contain bacteria.


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 a blood vessel. It is white because of the clear blood of the shrimp. Having the vein removed (called deveining) is a personal preference, but we highly recommend it so you can eat clean shrimp.

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 but is called vein just for reference.

The black vein is part of the digestive system, and the white is a blood vessel.

Any good restaurant can devein shrimp perfectly. In cleaning shrimp, they remove (called deveining) the black line of the two veins using a very sharp pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife.

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 have a dark color and may contain bacteria.

Chefs and other cooks remove it using a sharp paring knife before cooking because deveined shrimp makes the presentation clean and offers 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 the back of the shrimp. 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. Stick the skewer at the back (a few centimeters down its head) and pull it off before cooking.

Removing the vein on small shrimp can be more challenging than in large shrimp because the digestive tract or vein breaks in the deveining process.

Chef Tip: Peel the shrimp and put it in icy water before devein it. After deveining the shrimp, run it in cold water to remove residue on the last segment.

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

If you eat shrimp that hasn’t been deveined, you may encounter an unwanted gritty texture and compromise the overall flavor of your dish.

If you devein a shrimp, eating it will be cleaner and more pleasant 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.

“Devein shrimp: Vein out, flavor in, delight on a plate.”

– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

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


u003cstrongu003eWhat is the black vein on the underside of a shrimp?u003c/strongu003e

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.

u003cstrongu003eDo you devein both veins on shrimp?u003c/strongu003e

No, you don’t have to devein both veins on shrimp because the other vein (white vein) is just a blood vessel and doesn’t contain waste.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eDeveining shrimp may not be necessary, but you can devein both sides for hygienic and presentation purposes.

In A Nutshell 

The vein on the underside of the shrimp is called the sand vein or dark vein and alimentary canals. It is the shrimp’s intestinal tract where the waste is consolidated.

The intestinal tract is black, and the white is a blood vessel. You can remove the vein using a knife or skewers.

Deveining shrimp can be a personal choice; however, the vein is unsafe to eat if you consume raw shrimp.

While there is no real food safety reason, we recommend eating peeled shrimp and having the shrimp’s digestive tract removed (already deveined shrimp).


Shari Mason

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