Some gadgets I approach with glee. I know I'm going to love them right from the start. Others, I'm skeptical about, and I have to convinced of their value.
Others, I want to cheer on...encourage them to be good.
That's how I felt about the Hightailer ($14.99) by Chef'n. It's a strange device that's designed to devein shrimp and remove the shell. I really, really wanted this thing to work because I don't like cleaning shrimp.
My first problem was that finding completely uncleaned shrimp at the local stores was a little more difficult than I thought. The shell-on shrimp I found all were the easy-peel variety where the shell is split and the vein is removed. Let me tell you, asking for shrimp that still have the vein gets you some funny looks in stores.
Finally, I scored some shell-on shrimp that needed to be cleaned.
The device is pretty simple to use. Just insert the blade-like part into the shrimp, press the lever, and the shell is suppose to pop off while a little notch grabs the vein and pulls it out. The results were fair. There were some shrimp that came pretty clean, others where I had to pick the vein out, and still others where the shell didn't come all the way off like it was supposed to.
I have to admit that I got better at using the Hightailer after a while. With more practice on a lot of shrimp, it might be a bit more efficient. And it's possible that this would work better on fresh shrimp rather than frozen-and-thawed shrimp. But where I live, in the middle of the country, fresh shrimp are pretty impossible to find.
Even with the shrimp that were imperfectly cleaned, using the Hightailer was a bit quicker than cleaning with fingers and a knife. Whether it was enough of a time savings to make this device a must-have—well, probably not for me. I guess I'll stick with the easy-peel shrimp.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.