There's nothing that leaves me quite so culinarily befuddled than a plateful of head-on, shell-on shrimp. I can crack crab with the best of them, and when it comes to lobster, I could give Man-Hands a run for her money. But leggy, bulging-eyed shrimp leave me at a loss. I don't know what to do with my hands. It's been like this since I first encountered them in paella while on a high school trip to Spain. I set to work dissecting the shrimp, but oh, the carnage! Wiping my hands off on the edge of the table cloth was a low point. Since then, I've done my best to keep my distance from the little buggers.
Now I'd like to say that almost a decade later, my prawnish prowess impresses, but sadly, this is not the case. Which is why I probably should have left the Salt & Pepper Shrimp ($5.75 lunch special) at Silver Seafood in Uptown for the more able bodied. Whole shrimp are tossed with a mix of cornstarch, salt, and five spice powder, deep fried until crispy, and stir-fried with jalapeños, red pepper, and garlic. I'm sure that for those in the know, the delicately seasoned and expertly cooked shrimp and accompanying mound of rice would make for a great lunch. But I felt like I needed an instruction booklet for where to begin. The waiter advised that many eat everything, except the head and tail. However, some cursory internet research revealed that some people give these suckers the straight nose-to-tail treatment. I gave crunching everything a try, but I just don't know if it's for me. Something about slurping antenae down like spaghetti gives me the willies. How about you, Chicago Serious Eaters: how much of these little fellas would you be willing to eat?