Last weekend, I came across beautiful shrimp, live on ice at the farmers market, just caught in local waters. One of many seafoods available at the market, I couldn't pass these up, especially at only 5 bucks a pound, so I grabbed a couple pounds to enjoy throughout the weekend. One reason some people are hesitant to buy fresh shrimp is the preparation involved. While there is indeed a little work, it is more than worth the effort and often much more simple than many think. I typically start by gently popping off the head; it should come off easily if you hold the shrimp at the tail and simply fold back the head. Next, remove the digestive tract, often referred to as the vein. Simply make a shallow cut lengthwise down the curve of the shell, allowing the dark ribbon-like vein to be removed with a pointed utensil (although I usually pinch it out with my fingers). If the tail has been detached, the vein can be pinched at the tail end and pulled out completely with your fingers. Now remove the shell. The shrimp is then rinsed under cold water before being prepared.

Although the shrimp at the farmers markets are good to go, raw shrimp, in general, should be firm and have a mild odor. The shells should be translucent, free of blackened edges or black spots, a sign of quality loss. Once cooked, the meat should be firm and have no unpleasant odor; the color should be white with red or pink stripes.

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