To peel and cook shrimp: Pick fresh, firm, sweet-smelling shrimp. Shrimp may be peeled before or after cooking. To completely peel and clean shrimp: Rinse under cold water and break the head portion from the body and tail. Pull off the legs on the underside. With your fingers or a small knife, split the shell on the underside and peel it back over the shrimp. You can pull off the small tail at this time, or break the shell away from the tail and leave the small tail attached. With a small sharp knife split the top of the back of the shrimp and lift out the black strip.
To butterfly shrimp: Peel the shrimp, leaving the tail. With a sharp knife, carefully cut through the back curve of the shrimp, deepening the cut made to remove the strip, until the shrimp is held together only at the bottom of the body. Lay the shrimp on a sheet pan and flatten with your hand. Place a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper on top, and weigh down with a book or cutting board. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Proceed to cook according to recipe.
To boil shrimp: Bring a large pan of water to a boil. The water may be spiced if you wish. Plunge the shrimp, unpeeled, heads on or heads removed, into the water. Allow the water to return to a full boil, remove from heat and place in the sink. Pour cold water into the pot, replacing the hot cooking water, to stop the shrimp from cooking. Serve warm or chilled.
To broil shrimp: Soak thin bamboo skewers in cold water for 1 hour. Peel shrimp, leaving tail attached. Thread the skewer through the shrimp lengthwise. Place over hot coals for 30 seconds, or until firm