Note: I can't actually cook, I am just trying to learn to roughly assemble and heat things. Explain things to me like I know nothing.

A few weeks ago I decided to try out cooking some shrimp for myself. I planned to start off simple: cut out the veins, boil, and panfry. So, I bought a few meals' worth of shrimp and froze them. Over the last few weeks I've defrosted the portions and tried cooking them as planned.

Every time I noticed a foul fishy odor in the defrosted shrimp that made me gag. When I cooked it, I learned that it did not go away like the lighter ocean smell of fish. Overseasoning could not make the smell or taste go away. I have noticed this in some cod before, but it wasn't nearly as consistent as this batch of shrimp.

What on earth is that smell? Did the shrimp go bad? If it did, was it bad when I bought it or because I froze it? If not, what should I have done to get rid of that foul odor?

  • 1
    Assembling and heating things is cooking @BatWannaBe. Boiling shrimp is pointless, they pan fry in a couple of minutes.
    – GdD
    Aug 10, 2020 at 7:39
  • Are you removing the heads prior to freezing?
    – Sculper
    Aug 10, 2020 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


Shrimp, but also seafood in general, should not have a strong smell. You should be able to smell a faint salt water scent from them when not frozen, and basically nothing while they're frozen. If they're smelling a lot, that's a sign they may have gone bad.

It's impossible to say exactly what went wrong with them. If it didn't smell when you bought them and froze them, my best guess is that you defrosted them in an unsafe way. Always defrost in the fridge or under running cool water. Never leave them out on the counter (especially not over night).

I will also point out that your cooking method seems like a bit of overkill. It's very easy to overcook shrimp and have them end up rubbery. Just pan frying is perfectly sufficient. There is not need to boil them first. Overcooking can cause a strong fishy smell in seafood as well.

  • I always defrost in the fridge, and I'll skip the boiling next time
    – BatWannaBe
    Aug 11, 2020 at 4:33

Are you cleaning out the head, veins and then freezing?

I typically take off the head, thoroughly clean and then freeze for later use. The heads go into a boil for other uses!

  • I do not do those things before freezing, I do those things after defrosting. Does that result in this odor, and can you explain why?
    – BatWannaBe
    Aug 11, 2020 at 4:34
  • @BatWannaBe You shouldn't need to devein before freezing, but you should definitely remove the heads. Shrimp (and some other shellfish) heads contain an enzyme that will rot the rest of the meat pretty quickly, regardless of whether or not they're frozen.
    – Sculper
    Aug 11, 2020 at 18:17
  • Yes, @Sculper is correct about the heads, I just prefer to get my hands messy once and then have cleaned shrimp on hand :)
    – user87092
    Aug 13, 2020 at 10:16

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