Some common types of shrimp include white shrimp, pink shrimp, brown shrimp and rock shrimp. The spot shrimp is one of the most delicious, juicy, and rich shrimp types, and is often considered the tastiest of them all.
Shrimp is one of the most highly eaten and savored seafood worldwide. These crustaceans with curved, puny bodies and tails taste delicious. Whether battered and fried, baked, steamed or prepared for grilling and topped with sauces (think of the popular shrimp cocktail!) – meaty shrimps give you a rich taste of the ocean.
If you’re a shrimp aficionado, you are probably interested to know the different types of shrimps and their varying sizes. You may also want to know which one tastes best.
Different Types of Shrimp: What Do They Taste Like and How to Cook?
1. White Shrimp
White shrimp, also known as lake shrimp, northern white shrimp, gray shrimp, green shrimp, Daytona shrimp, common shrimp, and southern shrimp, is harvested along the Atlantic coast all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The white prawn is mainly identified by its translucent blue-green hue when raw. When cooked, it becomes white. These shrimps can grow up to 8 inches long.
Considered a ‘classic’ shrimp type, it has a tender texture and is easy to peel and clean. It’s especially used in recipes with robust flavors such as gumbos, Caribbean or Asian curry sauces, barbecue, and creole dishes.
2. Pink Shrimp
Originating from the West Coast of Florida, the pink shrimp is a wildly popular type of shrimp. It is also known as spotted shrimp, pink spotted shrimp, hopper, brown spotted shrimp, green shrimp, grooved shrimp, pink night shrimp, red shrimp, pushed shrimp and skipper.
Pink shrimp is characterized by its pink color when raw. Sometimes, these shrimp can have white or grey hues as well.
Pink shrimp are the largest of the warm-water shrimp species, making them ideal for a delightful, family-style peel-and-eat shrimp boil. With more meat per shrimp than other varieties, they are the perfect selection for shrimp salads as well.
3. Brown Shrimp
The brown shrimp is one of the most common, wild-caught shrimp. Originating from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, these shrimp have fascinating reddish-brown shells and dark green and red tail fans. Other names for brown shrimp are brownies, red shrimp, green lake shrimp, redtail shrimp, native shrimp, golden shrimp or summer shrimp.
When cooked, they turn a lovely sunset orange color. They are known for their unique taste, similar to iodine, firm texture and are considered the most flavorful of the Southeastern Atlantic and Gulf Coast shrimp species.
Their taste makes them a great choice for highly flavored dishes like gumbos, curries, and creole sauces.
4. Rock Shrimp
The rock shrimp (brown rock shrimp, Florida rock shrimp) is a species of prawn true to its name, with its signature rock-hard shells. In fact, in the 1960s, a special machine was designed to make it easy to peel them. They are mostly sold after being de-shelled and cleaned which is a time-consuming process.
The rock shrimp is often considered an affordable alternative to the expensive lobster. This is because this shrimp has a firm texture, sweet flavor and chewy consistency – similar to the spiny lobster. For this reason, it has also earned the title of ‘little shrimp with big lobster taste’.
5. Royal Red Shrimp
The huge crimson-colored shrimp is a must-try for shrimp lovers. It is also known as the ‘crowned jewel of Alabama shrimp.’ The royal red is a deepwater shrimp with a sweet-salty flavor and is famous for its buttery and rich meat. Their natural flavor is considered very similar to that of lobsters and scallops.
Packed with a naturally strong, distinct flavor, it is best boiled or steamed and enjoyed with melted garlic and butter. It is one of the tastiest shrimps you could ever try. Compared to pink, brown and white shrimp, it only takes half the time to cook the royal red shrimp.
6. Spot Shrimp
One of the largest shrimp types – the spot shrimp, grows up to 12 inches long. This shrimp type is also known as the ‘Lobsters of Alaska’. Other common names include Alaskan prawn and California spot prawn. It is mostly caught along the North Pacific, from Alaska to San Diego.
Spot shrimp have a deep pink, red or orange body with spikes, and a tail having a pair of two white spots. The shrimp is famous for its delicate texture and exotic flavor. Spot shrimp have a sweetness to them, and are tender when cooked. Plus, they’re quite soft, juicy and incredibly enjoyable.
However, as they are delicate, it is easy to break them up in the cleaning and preparation process. Considering the rich taste of the spot shrimp, the whole process is worth it.
7. Tiger Shrimp
Tiger shrimp, also known as Asian tiger shrimp, giant tiger prawn and black tiger shrimp, are mostly harvested in Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, and in Philippino fisheries. They are easy to identify due to the tell-tale tiger stripes on their body. Also among the largest species of shrimp, the tiger shrimp can grow up to 10-12 inches long.
When tiger shrimp are cooked, their meat turns white and the black stripes on their shell turn bright red. The tiger shrimp has a firm texture and a mild flavor and they’re often used in shrimp cocktails. You can also use them in mixed seafood dishes like risottos, or in Chinese fried rice dishes.
Other popular species of shrimp include:
Chinese white shrimp: Chinese whites are known for their mild flavor. When cooked, the meat has a softer texture compared to Gulf or Pacific whites, resembling that of a coldwater shrimp.
Pacific white shrimp: Also known as whiteleg shrimp or king prawn, tend to be sweet, tender and easy to peel. These shrimp are best when fried, grilled, baked or broiled.
What Is the Best Kind of Shrimp to Eat?
The best kind of shrimp to eat ultimately depends on personal preference. However, many consider the spot prawn to be one of the most delicious. They have a sweet, delicate flavor and a firm, buttery texture. Spot prawns are particularly popular in Pacific Northwest cuisine.
Other popular options include:
- Pacific white shrimp
- Black tiger shrimp
- Gulf shrimp
How Many Different Types of Edible Shrimp Are There?
The exact number of shrimp species can be difficult to determine, as new species are occasionally discovered, and regional variations in naming and classification exist. However, it is estimated that there are over 2,000 known species of shrimp worldwide.
What is a Standard Shrimp Size?
If you’re buying shrimp for the first time, you should know that there isn’t a standard size designation for them.
You can, however, easily figure out how many shrimp to expect in a packet. There is a ‘count per pound’ that is labeled on the packaging.
What Type of Shrimp is Jumbo Shrimp?
“Jumbo shrimp” is used to categorize shrimp that are larger than the average size.
The term “jumbo shrimp” can be applied to various species of shrimp, including:
- Black tiger shrimp
- White shrimp
- Pacific white shrimp
How Much Shrimp is in One Pound?
If the frozen shrimp packet reads 21/25, it means it will contain 21 to 25 shrimp in one pound. Similarly, if it reads U/10, there will be less than 10 shrimps per pound.
The important information to remember here is that the lower per pound shrimp count, the larger in size they will be.
You can easily check this table for sizes and the count per pound you can normally expect:
|SIZE||COUNT PER POUND|
Harvesting Shrimp: Farmed vs. Wild
When shopping for shrimp, you should always ask if the shrimp were caught in the wild or farmed. The vast majority of shrimp available in markets is generally farmed.
If it was caught in the wild, you should ensure that it is responsibly-caught shrimp. Ask for shrimp that come with the Marine Stewardship Council certification. Or, the shrimp should be listed as “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” on Seafood Watch.
In the case of farmed shrimp, you would want to know that it is certified by Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
Popular Shrimp Recipes & Dips
The best cooking methods for shrimp include:
- Sautéing: Heat a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add some oil or butter to the pan and allow it to heat up. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Thread the shrimp onto skewers or use a grilling basket to prevent them from falling through the grates. Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes.
- Boiling: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes until they turn pink and float to the surface. Drain the shrimp and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process.
We recommend you try different dipping sauces to go with a big bucket of fried, steamed shrimp or grilled shrimp.
Thousand Island dressing is one of the most neutral yet tastiest sauces that also lets the flavor of the shrimp shine through. Thai chili lime sauce is a more robust choice perfect for those looking to add a ton of heat and flavor to their shrimp.
Here are a few easy ways to make a Thousand Island or Thai sweet chili lime dressing at home:
If you’re a beginner cook, there is one shrimp recipe with many variations that you should absolutely try: the lemon garlic butter shrimp recipe. This recipe is among the most popular and easy ones when it comes to cooking prawns and shrimp.
Here are a few tried and tested variations of this recipe: