We sometimes buy precooked shrimp in a pinch, but they often are rubbery and tasteless. Poaching your own not only is quick and easy, it also delivers better texture and allows you to flavor the cooking water.

To poach shrimp perfectly every time, follow these steps: In a Dutch oven, bring to a boil 8 cups water, 1 lemon (halved and juice squeezed into the water), 5 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon whole cloves. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add 1 pound uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined). Cover and let stand until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, then quickly transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cold, drain, discard seasonings and transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl. Dry well before using.

Whether you’re poaching, searing or grilling shrimp, the key is to cook it quickly to avoid the common pitfall of overcooking. (We’ve all had rubbery shrimp before.) When it comes to poaching, that means having that bowl of ice water ready and waiting is key.

Try it out in a recipe like our Thai Grapefruit Salad with Shrimp (Som Tom O), our take on the classic Thai pomelo salad, where in we use grapefruit instead of the highly seasonal pomelo. Or, add your perfectly poached shrimp to these Peanut-Sesame Udon Noodles with Scallions, one of our favorite quick, weeknight dinners. You could also mix poached shrimp with a mustard-mayonnaise dressing to make a light but satisfying salad, as in this Shrimp Fennel and Radish Salad—a combination inspired by a sandwich from San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery & Cafe.

Most recently, we used our poaching skills to make this Jasmine Rice and Herb Salad with Shrimp, inspired by Malaysian nasi ulam, a rice dish suffused with a variety of Southeast Asian herbs

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