Great ingredients make for great meals. Whenever you can, use the highest quality supplies for your recipes. The flavor difference will always come through in your finished dish.
If there is an ingredient that you are not familiar with, check our Ingredient section. There are pages and pages of information about the ingredients used in my recipes.
I used to vacation along the coast of South Carolina and would go to the docks for fresh shrimp. The flavor is incomparable. Practically speaking, it's hard to buy fresh shrimp because it's not widely available and most of the shrimp sold is processed and frozen quickly after catching. Because shrimp is so delicate, only the most careful handling will result in truly fresh product. Occasionally my local fish market will have fresh shrimp but I try to use it the day purchased. You are better off to buy good quality frozen shrimp and thaw it yourself. I never buy shrimp that has been peeled and de-veined.
If it is handled well, shrimp that has been frozen and thawed is usually of very good quality. Look for firm shrimp with little softening of the shells. If the tail pulls away easily it is not fresh. Quality shrimp, whether it is fresh or has been frozen, will have a fresh clean odor. It should have the light salty smell of the ocean.
The color is not as important since there are different colors of shrimp. Shrimp with dark spots (called melanosis) is, however, an indication that they are not as fresh.