By A.J. Andrews

Believe it or not, seafood is not actually supposed to smell "fishy." It should have a fresh ocean aroma. If shrimp does smell like ammonia, it's usually a sign of protein degradation, but not always. If the shrimp hasn't reached the expiration date, the smell may be coming from purge—harmless, liquefied amino acids that seafood releases in the package, similar to the pink liquid in a steak package.

fresh raw prawns and ice
credit: Magone/iStock/GettyImages

Checking for Freshness

Check for sliminess on the shrimp, a telltale sign of protein degradation that usually appears in tandem with the fishy odor. If this is the case, toss them. Fresh shrimp is usually still good for two days past their sell-by date.

Prepping the Shrimp

Rinse the shrimp under cold running water for several minutes and smell them. If they still smell like ammonia, you know the odor comes from the flesh, not any purge from the packaging. Toss them. If they smell fresh, you're good to go. Cook them up for a stuffed avocado appetizer or seafood pasta.