For years, shrimp has been the most preferred seafood in the United States, accounting for more than a quarter of all seafood consumed in the country. It’s also one of the most diverse classifications. There are dozens of different shrimp species, each with its own set of names and recipes.
You can purchase them with or without the head, the shell, the vein removed or intact, tail-on or tailless. Some are pre-cooked, while others are frozen, fresh, or have been frozen earlier. Then there’s the debate over shrimp vs. prawns, which only adds to the confusion.
Shrimp may appear to be a basic seafood option. They’re all comparable after you choose between frozen, fresh, tail-on, or peeled and deveined, right? They’re pink, C-shaped, and skinny, and they’re fantastic dipped in cocktail sauce. Below, we have discussed some common varieties of edible prawns.
Types of Shrimps
1. Pink Shrimp
Frozen or fresh, unshelled or shelled, raw or cooked, pink shrimp are available in all forms. They are caught all year but are particularly plentiful in the winter and spring. The tails of these shrimp are soft and gentle, with sweet-tasting flesh.
Raw pink shrimp should not have an ammonia odor and should smell like the ocean. When uncooked, it’s difficult to tell the difference between pink shrimp landed in northern Florida and brown and white penaeid shrimp because they’re all translucent pink to grey in hue.
Pink shrimp are sweeter and more delicious compared to warm water shrimp and are more delicious. The live pink shrimp’s tail is red, and the body and shell are translucent. When cooked, the shell turns pink while the color of the meat is white.
The cooked flesh is firm and juicy. You can try pink shrimp cooked, frozen, or peeled. If you want to check if the shrimp has gone bad or not, look for an unpleasant odor as it is the most obvious sign of degradation.
2. Brown Shrimp
Brown shrimps have a solid toothed rostrum (part of their shell) that extends to or beyond the outer margin of the eyes and is grooved on the back surface of the shell.
Brown shrimp have a purple to reddish-purple band on their tails, as well as green or red coloring. Brown shrimp can grow up to 7 inches in length, depending on water temperature and salinity conditions. They only live for a few years, usually less than two.
Brown shrimp have a powerful flavor that pairs well with hearty foods like gumbo and jambalaya because of their iodine-rich diet.
3. White Shrimp
White shrimp are short-lived species that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the United States east coast. This species is the largest shrimp in its range, reaching about 8 inches in length, and is one of the most sought-after seafood varieties.
As a result, a highly profitable fishery exists in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast United States. The white shrimp, like lobsters, true crabs, and other prawns, is a decapod, meaning it has ten legs and is coated in a spiny exoskeleton that protects it from predators.
Adult white shrimps are omnivorous, eating a variety of foods such as algae and plants, crustaceans, and dead or decaying organic waste. White shrimp are eaten by most soft-bottom fishes and a variety of invertebrates. Throughout most of its range, this species is also the target of a huge fishery.
White shrimp numbers are well-managed, and neither the United States nor Mexico considers this species to be overfished.
Because white shrimp are found in locations with less salinity, such as brackish estuaries and bayous, they have a milder flavor with undertones of natural sweetness. They’ll soak up the intricacies of the sauces and seasonings if you boil or sauté them.
4. Rock Shrimp
The cousin of brown, pink, and white shrimps is the rock shrimp. Because rock shrimp have a strong, hard shell that prohibited broad marketing until a machine was devised to split and devein the headed shrimp, the similarities between these shrimp end there. Rock shrimp are now commonly accessible as headless, entire, shell-on, round, split, peeled, or deveined fresh or frozen items.
Rock shrimp have a different life cycle and are caught in a different way than ordinary shrimp. Rock shrimp live and spawn at 120- 240 ft. of water. Throughout the year, they are harvested using reinforced trawl nets.
Like spiny lobster, they have a hard texture and a sweet flavor. When opposed to purchasing pricey lobster types, this flavor gives them a more cheap protein.
Rock shrimp with proper handling will have clear white meat that is free of discoloration. Fresh rock shrimp will have a gentle, ocean-like odor. The largest size commonly obtainable is 21-25 per pound, and rock shrimp by the number of shrimps per pound.
5. Tiger Shrimp
Tiger shrimps are native to the waters of the African and Asian continents, although they can also be found in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and India as farmed and wild species. The tiger stripes on the body make them easy to identify, and they’re regarded for their moderate flavor profile and firm texture, making them the go-to pick for individuals who are cooking shrimp for the first time.
They can reach giant sizes of 12 inches in length and are great for steaming, grilling, and a variety of other dishes. When opposed to the distinct flavor of Gulf shrimp caught in the ocean, farmed tiger shrimp have a mild, even bland flavor. Tiger shrimp meat is also softer than other shrimp species when cooked.
6. Spot Shrimp
The females of this species are the largest of the native shrimps, measuring up to 23 cm in length. It has reddish-brown or tan body color with white horizontal bars on the carapace and conspicuous white markings on the first and fifth abdominal segments. The body is normally slim, and there are five pairs of “swimmerets” on the abdomen’s underside.
They are among the tenderest shrimp available for cooking, and as a result, they have an incredibly soft and juicy texture. However, this makes them difficult to clean and prepare since if you are not careful, the shells will break into small pieces. These are the gigantic varieties, which can reach 12 inches in length.
7. Aesop Shrimp
Pink Striped Shrimp or Coonstripe shrimp are other names for this species. It has a different body form than most shrimp kinds, having a rounder head and a more curved body. Poached or chilled in salads, these naturally sweet medium-sized shrimp are popular.
How to Find Sustainable Shrimp vs Overfished Shrimp
Sustainability should always be a factor when it comes to shrimp, as it should with most seafood. The seafood sector must pay attention to its environmental implications as ocean stocks decline, and entire ecosystems are threatened. Seafood enthusiasts can help to balance diminishing ecosystems and preserve species by researching and purchasing sustainable shrimp.
Looking for shrimp with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch seal of approval, such as these, is the quickest approach to assess sustainability.
But what makes it long-term? Sustainability means that shrimp (and really all seafood) is captured or farmed in methods that take into account the long-term effects on the species’ survival and the health of the oceans—you can see our sustainability commitment (and receipts) here.
Man-made farms and collecting shrimp in their natural habitats are the two techniques of harvesting shrimp. Both ways of harvesting have advantages, but there are a few things to look for when purchasing sustainable shrimp.
Sustainability Issues with Shrimp Farming
This method of cultivating seafood can be hazardous to the environment depending on where shrimp are farmed.
Disease and pollution are common on certain farms because animals are kept in such close quarters. When farming systems, for example, are not “closed,” waste might be released into open water. As a result, other types of marine life may be harmed, and entire ecosystems may suffer long-term damage.
Shrimp farming in the United States is regulated due to these risks. Closed habitats must be used by farmers, and overcrowding must be avoided.
On the other hand, the government does not strictly monitor the feed used in these farms, and most farm-raised shrimp are fed a diet that is very different from what they would eat in the wild. Because soy and other GMO-containing ingredients are inexpensive and help fatten up shrimp quickly for sale, they are widely used.
If you’re going to eat farmed shrimp, though, it’s always better to buy seafood cultivated in the United States. Shrimp farms in other countries are not subject to the same environmental regulations as those in the United States.