Shrimps are ten-legged crustaceans found in fresh and salt waters all around the world. Large-sized shrimps are sold as prawns. Their delicious, soft-to firm-textured tail meat is one of the most sought-after seafood in the modern-day culinary world.
Scientific name: Penaeidae monodon (Giant tiger shrimp), Family: Penaeidae.
|Common Shrimp -fresh catch. Photo credit: Tony Alter.|
Shrimps and prawns are small crustaceans with long, narrow tapering bodies that curled-under at the tail end and long whiskers (antennae). Thousands of species of shrimp are found in all the world's oceans and freshwater bodies. Technically large shrimp is known as prawn, particularly in the UK.
Common shrimps are tiny, cold-water living crustaceans. They have translucent grey bodies and measure only about 2 inches. They live in soft sand in shallow waters, emerging at night in darker camouflage to hunt for their prey. They turn brownish-grey once cooked.
Shrimps are small-bodied slender crustaceans. They feature spined, long, cylindrical body with long tail which enables them dart backwards.
They come in many colors depending on different subspecies, ranging from olive green to red.
Common shrimp: It is also known as pink shrimp or pink prawns. These translucent, brownish cold-water creatures grow up to 10 cm/4 inches in length. They are plentiful in deep waters in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, but related species are found all around the world. The French and Italians consider these prawns are the best of all; they have an excellent flavor and turn a glorious red when cooked.
Deep red prawn: These cold-water prawns live at great depths in the North Sea. They have translucent pink bodies, which turn a pale salmon color when cooked. They almost always sold ready cooked and have a delicate, juicy flavor.
Mediterranean prawn: These large cold-water prawns can grow up to 20 cm/8inches. They are also known as blue or red shrimp, and the color can vary considerably-the head can be anything from blood-red to deep coral, but once cooked, they turn a brilliant red. The flesh is delicious and extremely succulent.
Gulf shrimp: These warm water prawns come from the Gulf of Mexico. They are usually bright red but may sometimes be a grayish pink. They can grow up to 40 g in weight and have succulent flesh.
Japanese prawn: Marsupenaeus japonicus, also known as the kuruma shrimp, are large warm water prawns that can grow to a length of 23 cm/9 in. The body is pale, with brown bands across the back. They are found throughout the Indo-Pacific region and in the red sea.
Tiger prawn: Also known as king prawns and jumbo shrimp in the United States, tiger prawns are a huge warm-water variety found throughout the Indo-Pacific region. They can grow up to 33 cm/13 inches in length and are ideal for barbequing and grilling (broiling). In their raw state, they can be translucent greenish-grey in color.
Shrimp, being a crustacean, is low in calories. 100g of its tail meat holds just 71. Its white meat is low in fat; just 1.01g per 3 oz (100 g).
Their lean, non-oily white meat is an impressive source of protein. 100 g of shrimp meat holds 13.61 g (37% DRI) of protein that is complete in all essential amino acids in a healthy proportions.
Research studies suggest that consumption seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and high in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
American Heart Association recommends consumption of seafood, including crustaceans, to fulfil requirements of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.
At 180 IU or 6% DI values, shrimp holds relatively good amounts of vitamin-A and moderate concentrations of long chain omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA).
Vitamin-A and omega-3's are essential for healthy hair, mucosa and skin.
Shrimp essentially preys on small fish mollusk, insects and zooplankton which are the finest sources of B-complex vitamins. Shrimp meat is good source of folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Invertebrates, like Shrimp, are at the bottom of the food chain and concentrate very small amounts of heavy metals like mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of a variety of seafood lower in mercury a week.
Shrimps are very rich source of minerals including phosphorus (35% RDI), iron (3% RDI), zinc (9% RDI), selenium, iodine, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.01 g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.068 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.006 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.07 g||--|
Shrimps are sold whole or with their head removed, fresh or frozen, cooked or smoked, shelled or unshelled. They can be dried or canned. The largest shrimp are the most expensive.
Shrimps are often labeled small, medium, large, extra-large, or jumbo, but there is little consistency in what the terms mean. Choose by the number of shrimps per pound-for example, 16/20 refers to 16-20 shrimps per pound.
Choose fresh, firm-bodied shrimp with a mild sea smell; frozen shrimp with no frost or drying.
Avoid soft, slimy shrimp, those whose body is separated from the shell and those with an ammonia smell or with black spots.
Shrimps are highly fragile and are frozen, covered with ice on the fishing boat itself, or cooked immediately.
In the fridge for 1-2 days.
In the freezer for 1 month.
Shrimp are better if they have been defrosted slowly in the fridge.
When using whole shrimp, remove its shell. Hold the head in one hand and the body in the other, and pull so that the head tears off, taking the shell with it. Any parts of the shell still attached to the body can then be removed. For headless shrimp, the shell can be cut with scissors before being removed as is. It is easier to shell a slightly frozen shrimp than an unfrozen one. 2 pounds of unshelled shrimp only gives 1 pound of cooked meat, as there is 50% wastage for whole, raw, unshelled shrimp.
The shell makes an excellent stock, which can be used for cooking the shrimp. To prepare the stock, cover the shells with boiling water and simmer for 10 min, then strain the liquid before adding the shrimp. Uncooked shells can be ground and added to butter as a flavoring. Shrimp can be eaten with their intestines-a dark vein along the back-still intact. Some people prefer deveined shrimp. Make a small slice into the flesh with the point of a knife parallel to the vein, and then pull out the intestine.
The body of a shrimp curls when cooked. Overcooking makes shrimp tough and dry.
Here are some serving ideas:
The cardinal rule with any prawn or shrimp is not to overcook them, as this makes them tough and chewy. Ready cooked prawns are best eaten without any further cooking.
|Deep fried shrimp. Photo credit: Amy Nguyen.|
Shrimp is delicious hot or cold, as a hors d'oeuvre, appetizer or main dish (by itself or with meat, poultry, vegetables or pasta dishes). It is used in soups, sauces, stuffing and salads. Shrimp can replace other crustaceans in most recipes. In Southeast Asian cuisine, fermented shrimp, in paste or powder form, is used as a seasoning.
Serve them simply with mayonnaise or wedges of lemon and brown bread and butter, or use them in salad or prawn cocktail.
If you do cook them, use them in a dish such as a pasta sauce where they need only be heated through.
They add extra flavor and texture to other fish dishes, such as fish pies, terrines, and flans and combine well with other shellfish.
Small prawns and shrimp make an excellent filling for omelet, bouchees and tartlets.
Red prawn can be boiled briefly in salt water or a court bouillon and are delicious grilled (broiled), barbequed or deep-fried in batter.
Combined with squid and other fish, deep fried prawns are an essential ingredient of an Italian fritto misto.
Briefly fried in butter and olive oil they make a superb arm salad combined with scallops.
Warm water prawns make a delicious filling for steamed wontons.
Both prawns and shrimp may be used for making sauces to serve with fish. The classic sauce crevette a l'anglaise is based on a rich butter sauce to which anchovy essence, cooked, peeled or added, while adding shrimp butter to a creamy, cider flavored sauce will turn any plainly cooked fish into a feast.
Shrimp paste is a fermented condiment commonly used in curries, sauces, and sambal in many Southeast Asian cuisines.
Allergy to crustaceans may appear in 1% of the population and is more common in teenage and adult life than very early childhood.
Many allergic reactions to seafood are mild and cause hives (urticaria), tingling of the throat and mouth, swelling (angioedema) and/or gut reactions (vomiting, diarrhea). (Medical disclaimer).
<<-Also read- Crawfish nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.