Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten Has an Easy Way to Cook Perfect Shrimp

Ina Garten has perfected many cooking techniques, including one she swears by for perfectly cooked shrimp. The Barefoot Contessa star uses an easy boiling technique that adds a surprising ingredient.

Ina Garten poses with one of her cookbooks in 2018
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Ina Garten explains how to cook perfect shrimp

While demonstrating how to make her tarragon shrimp salad recipe on the Barefoot Contessa cooking show, Garten explained how she cooks shrimp that “come out perfectly every time.” It’s an easy technique with one ingredient she says “really makes a difference.”

Garten puts the peeled and deveined shrimp in a large saucepan then adds 8 cups of cold water, 3 tablespoons of Pernod liqueur, and 1 tablespoon of salt. She turns the heat to medium-high, cooking the shrimp uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The shrimp should be cooked until “just firm and pink.”

“Trust me,” Garten said. “That makes the tenderest, most delicious shrimp. And that little bit of Pernod really makes a difference.” You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website.

The Fine Cooking website describes the flavor of Pernod as “anise,” adding that it “lends a licorice-y flavor to whatever it’s added to. It has a particular affinity with seafood dishes.”

Ina Garten prefers roasting shrimp for some of her recipes

While Garten recommends the boiling technique for the tarragon shrimp recipe, she also roasts shrimp for another easy shrimp salad.

When she made roasted shrimp salad on Barefoot Contessa, she explained why roasting makes such a difference in the flavor of this recipe.

“At Barefoot Contessa, we used to make hundreds of pounds of shrimp salad and we used to do it in big pots of boiling water,” Garten said. “I never really thought it added any flavor to the shrimp.”

“And then one day, we started making chicken salad by roasting the chicken first instead of poaching it — and it was so delicious and I thought ‘Why not do that with the shrimp?,’” Garten continued.

The roasting method is “simple,” according to the Barefoot Contessa star. After peeling and deveining the shrimp, she placed it on a sheet pan and drizzled it with olive oil. She gave it a sprinkle of salt and pepper, mixed it all together, and roasted the shrimp in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 6 to 8 minutes “until they’re pink, firm, and just barely cooked through.”

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Ina Garten has an easy method for cooking salmon, too

Garten shared an easy technique for perfectly cooked salmon as well and, true to her cooking philosophy, it’s not overly complicated.

While demonstrating how to make her salmon with lentils recipe, Garten explained, “The key to the salmon is to just sear the outside. So you make a really crisp crust and then it seals in all the flavor.”

After drizzling the fillets with olive oil and seasoning them with salt and pepper, Garten placed the salmon in a hot pan. “And just leave it,” she said. “I know it’s really tempting to move it around but you want to create a really great crust.”

She cooked the fillets for two minutes, flipped them, then placed the pan in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 5 to 7 minutes. “And it’ll be perfect — sort of crusty on the outside and tender inside,” Garten explained.

“This is how they cook it in restaurants and it comes out perfectly,” she added.