Prawns are a type of marine crustacean that resembles a giant shrimp and are an important element of the human diet. Prawns are fished commercially in around 30 different species.
The best and largest quality crustaceans are found in the coldest waters of the South Atlantic and Pacific, at depths of 800 meters. Because they have a nutty and sweet flavor, they are more difficult to come by and more expensive than other lobsters on the market.
Prawns can be found in all types of water, including seawater, freshwater, and estuaries in temperate and tropical regions. Their main strength is their ability to adjust to changing conditions such as temperature, oxygen concentration, and salinity. Prawns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I’ve put up a list of some of the most popular edible prawns.
Types of Edible Prawns
1. Pink Prawn
Pink prawns are available all year and are a popular option due to their ease of pairing with sauces. They’re healthful, low in saturated fat, and a good source of protein, and they’re sweet and soft with a moderate flavor profile.
Because their size limits the number of ways they may be cooked and served, most other recipes choose larger prawns due to their versatility and versatility in the kitchen.
They’re ideal as a salad topping, fried in an omelet, or used as a garnish in seafood because of their small size. Their sweet taste makes them an excellent match for delicate sauces like shrimp and grits.
2. Brown Prawn
They have a solid texture and a brownish-red shell, and their flavors range from pleasantly sweet to mildly salty or iodine-like. When cooked, they turn pink and have a distinct flavor from other edible shrimps.
Chefs prefer to steam or boil brown prawns to preserve the natural flavor of the prawns.
Brown prawns must be cooked while still alive, or they will become mushy and tough to peel. As a result, prawns are frequently boiled on fishing boats, and you’ll most likely find them already cooked at your local fishmonger. Keep the heads and shells of unpeeled prawns, as well as other crustaceans, to produce wonderful umami-rich stocks and sauces.
3. White Prawn
The white prawns, which reach over eight inches in length and have a firm texture, provide cooks with a wide range of cooking alternatives. White prawns, for example, can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, stuffing, grilling, baking, and even frying.
Gulf white, Chinese white, and Pacific white prawns are the three main types. Many cooks favor them because of their classic taste, hard texture, sweet flavor, and simplicity of washing.
In Hokkien, the white prawn is known as “Ang Kah,” which means “red leg.” Despite this, their legs are not usually red, though their form makes them immediately recognizable. They usually have a clear yellowish-white color with a reddish tinge and grow to be around six inches long.
4. Rock Prawn
The rock prawn has a hard-as-rock shell (thus the name) and lobster-like flavor and texture.
They live and breed in the warm deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, 120 to 240 feet below the surface, from Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Rock prawns are little, measuring 2 to 3 inches long and weighing around 21 to 25 pounds, though there is some controversy regarding whether they are shrimp or prawns.
Because it was so difficult to get to the meat through the hard shell until machines were invented to process them, rock prawns were only popular with fishermen until machines were invented to process them.
The sweet, briny flavor of rock prawns is similar to Dungeness crab and the soft yet durable texture of spiny lobster; all packed into a curled shrimp body.
Rock prawns can be used in practically any dish that calls for shrimp or lobster. They’re fantastic for grilling, roasting, steaming, and broiling, and they’d also be delicious in a shellfish stew or paella.
5. Tiger Prawn
Tiger prawns are huge prawns that are generally found in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean but have spread to other parts of the world, including the Gulf of Mexico. The stripes that cover the shell give tiger prawns their common moniker.
This species is a very important seafood species that is widely sought by commercial fishermen across its range and is farmed in aquaculture farms across the world. The tiger prawn, like true crabs, lobsters, and other prawns, is a decapod, meaning it has ten legs and is coated in a spiny exoskeleton that protects it from predators.
Tiger prawns may grow up to 12 inches long and are great for steaming, grilling, and a variety of other dishes.
6. Spot Prawn
Spot prawns resemble small lobsters, but they are actually shrimp. Whatever you want to name them, these sweet and meaty crustaceans will have you humming “California Dreamin'” in no time.
Spot prawns are small sea animals with a delicate texture and a delectably sweet flavor that some compare to a cross between the best lobster and freshly churned butter. They’re typically linked to Santa Barbara, where they’re gathered in small quantities every summer.
Spot prawns are often referred to as “Santa Barbara spot prawns” by some people, particularly Californians. On the other hand, many Alaskans refer to them as Alaskan spot prawns. They’re OK, though, because spot prawns grow and are fished across much of the North Pacific Ocean’s coastal region, from San Diego to Alaska. However, British Columbia is home to the majority of the commercial spot prawn fishery.
Spot prawns that have been sustainably harvested are trapped in traps and then hand-selected. This method, together with carefully managed fishing seasons to allow for adequate reproduction, ensures the fishery’s long-term viability along the West Coast of North America.
Unless you have a boat, prawn pots, and a fishing license to go out and grab them yourself, the labor-intensive manner of sustainable gathering makes these small crustaceans extremely expensive. Most shellfish connoisseurs, on the other hand, agree that spot prawns are well worth the money.
Spot prawns have a flavor similar to the greatest shrimp you’ve ever experienced. The flavor is sweet, fresh, and briny, and the texture is delicate, almost buttery, providing a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
7. Giant River Prawn
The brilliant blue tail, legs, and antennae of giant river prawns make them highly recognizable in Southeast Asian countries. In Malay, it’s known as udang gelah, and it’s constantly in high demand, especially during Chinese New Year.
Because of its popularity, there is never enough supply to match demand, allowing shops and fishmongers to charge greater rates. These prawns can reach astonishing lengths of up to 23 inches, making them highly sought after by Asian buyers.
They have a lot of roe in their heads and shells. Because of their rich flavor, they’re ideal for gravies, stews, and sauces, and they’re also the most popular choice for Singaporeans’ favorite spicy Thai soup, seafood tom yum soup.
8. Ghost Prawn or Glass Prawn
The Ghost Prawn, sometimes known as the Glass Prawn, is a fascinating Palaemonetes species. Nothing better explains them than their own name because their mostly clear, transparent body gives them the appearance of shaped glass. These see-through prawns may be kept alone or in a group and are readily protected from predators.
Keeping a large number of Glass Prawns in a community tank is usually a good idea because these small creatures do a fantastic job of keeping the tank clean. The Ghost Shrimp will not only devour the leftover bits of fish meal but will also lick any algae areas.
This variety of shrimp is easy to care for and will thrive even in small tanks with only 5 gallons of water. Ghost prawns live for about a year and grow to be almost an inch and a half long when fully grown.
Because they are omnivorous and can eat both meat and plant-based meals, they, like most other types, are not extremely picky about their diet. Ghost prawns like to lurk in crevices and nooks. As a result, make sure your tank is appropriately decorated.
9. Banana Prawn
Because of their light, sweet flavor, banana prawns are becoming increasingly popular among Americans. They look good because they keep their shape when cooked. Banana prawns are typically served hot rather than cold in salads or platters.
Traditional shrimp cooking methods (such as shallow frying and grilling) can be used to prepare banana prawns. They’re also fantastic in seafood recipes like prawn cakes and terrines.
Banana prawns, a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, are well-suited to spicy flavors. Chilli jam is a great addition to any meal. Coconut curries in the Thai manner and avocado cocktails are also delicious.
10. School Prawn
The body of a school prawn has few or no hairy patches, and the telson has four pairs of prominent movable spines. Near the tip of the fifth walking leg, males have a notch. The antennae are brown, and their color is transparent with irregular brown or green patches (particularly in estuaries).
School prawns are only found in the waters off Australia’s east coast. Estuaries are home to postlarval to adolescent school prawns. Adult school prawns can be found in estuaries as well, but they prefer marine environments.
Although juvenile school prawns prefer living in seagrass areas within estuaries, they can also be found on bare fine to moderately coarse sand substrates. Adult school prawns are quite common in murky marine waters caused by estuary discharge following severe rainfall or river flooding.