Choose plump shrimp with bulging black eyes and a fresh sea water scent.
Twist the head away from the body. Save the head for the stock.
Remove the shell. On the underside of the shrimp, there are two sets of legs. Hold one set of legs on your hand. Break them away from the center of the body. Continue pulling the legs over the shrimp body, until the shell slips off of the shrimp in one smooth motion. Save the shell for the stock.
Using a knife, make a shallow slit down the back of the shrimp from the front to the tail.
This exposes the vein, which can sometimes be clear or black. Remove the vein with your fingers, or run under cold water. Discard vein.
To make the stock, gather a mediumsized pot, oil, water, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and black peppercorns (freeze the trimmings from your everyday cooking and use the stems and scraps for stock).
Remember those shells? Now’s the time to use them. Rinse under running water.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot. Sauté the shrimp shells until they begin to turn pink.
Add the vegetables and water to the pot. Simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until stock has reduced to the desired consistency. Strain. Use immediately or cool and use within 3 days. Freezes for up to two months.