Shrimps And Prawns: What Are The Differences?

Many people think that shrimp and shrimp are the same thing. We present the differences and explain how their characteristics affect the preparations in the kitchen and in the diet.
Shrimps and prawns: what are the differences?

Many people think that shrimp and shrimp are the same thing. Despite the similarity, the differences are instead numerous.

Both have a short lifespan and once they are adults they group together in schools, making them easy prey for fishing boats. The two species belong to the order of the decapods, crustaceans with shell and ten legs.

However, they show anatomical, reproductive, organoleptic and habitat differences. Is it a shrimp or a shrimp? Find out how to tell them apart.

Shrimps and prawns: anatomically different

From the anatomical point of view, they are different although they belong to the same order (the Decapoda). The prawns belong to the suborder of the Dendrobranchiata , that is , they are endowed with branched gills. Of the ten legs or appendages, the first three pairs terminate in pincers.

Shrimps, of the suborder Pleocyemata , have gills with a lamellar structure and only two pairs of forelegs terminate in pincers.

If you want to find other differences, check the antennas and shell. Shrimps have long, sturdy antennae that can triple the length of their body. Looking at the shell, however, you will see that the segments overlap on the abdomen. In shrimp, the second segment of the shell overlaps the first and third.

Shrimp usually incubate eggs between their swimming legs. The eggs adhere to it until they hatch and become part of the plankton. Some shrimp species are born male and then become female at some point in their life. The shrimp reproduces and then releases the fertilized eggs into the water.

Cooked shrimp.
Shrimps are smaller, but their protein value is higher than shrimp.

Where do shrimp and prawns live?

Crayfish live on the seabed and oceans all over the world. They need a lot of oxygen, so they prefer shallow waters. They are often found in rocky, tropical and temperate waters; they also share lake bottoms, cliffs, mud, brackish and sweet lagoons with algae.

They live in caves, cracks, both running and stagnant waters. They move in benches and easily withstand different temperatures. This allows for wide distribution across the planet.

Most prawns live in the sea and are concentrated in the parallels at 40 degrees north latitude and 40 degrees south latitude. The species most exploited by fishing, the Penaeidae , lives in the shallow coastal waters. Sometimes they burrow into the seabed during daylight hours to emerge at night in search of food.

Shrimp larvae are not very resistant to low temperatures. This seems to be the reason for their poor distribution in increasing latitudes.

Shrimps and prawns: pay attention to the size

To quickly distinguish a shrimp from a shrimp, just look at their size: the latter are larger. They can reach 15-20 cm in length and are gray in color, while shrimp can reach a maximum of 8 cm and are brown in color.

Nutritional differences

At first glance, eating a shrimp or shrimp might seem the same, but their edible portion has nutritional differences.

  • Fresh shrimp is made up of about 20% protein (similar to that of fish, chicken or other meats). The fat content is low. It is therefore considered a lean meat. 100 grams of shrimp provide only 1.73 g of total fat with a predominance of polyunsaturated omega 3 fats. Cholesterol is high, about 152 mg%.

It also provides mineral salts: 52 mg of calcium, 2.4 mg of highly absorbable iron per 100 grams of product. Among the vitamins A stands out with 54 mcg of retinol. It also contains potassium, sodium, magnesium and zinc in good quantities.

  • Shrimp, on the other hand, provides 16% protein and less fat than shrimp. Mineral salts are also lower (27 mg of calcium, 1 mg of iron and 16 mcg of retinol). Potassium, however, is much higher, nearly 300 mg per 100 grams of product.

On the other hand, it is worth remembering that both crustaceans provide one of the most powerful food antioxidants: astaxanthin. It is the pigment that gives the typical pink color after cooking and to which various health benefits are attributed.

Risotto with prawns.
Prawns go well with foods such as rice, increasing their potassium content.

Which of the two tastes better?

From a gastronomic point of view, there is a slight difference in flavor. Prawns are a little sweeter than prawns, and this influences the gastronomic preparations. Shrimps have a stronger flavor, so they are ideal for making a delicious soup or broth.

Prawns are ideal with garlic, butter and plenty of parsley. If you prefer, prepare them stewed to season pasta or rice. They also lend themselves well to grilled or grilled, by virtue of their size. If, on the other hand, you want to prepare a fish paella, opt for the shrimp, with a stronger flavor.

As for the texture, the flesh of the prawn is firmer, less tough and less juicy. You have to be very careful not to overcook them so as not to risk ruining them.

How to exploit the differences in the kitchen?

Beyond the size, shell, habitat and reproductive habits, the differences between shrimps and prawns reside in the nutritional value and use in the kitchen. For example, if you need to increase your protein and iron intake, choose shrimp. If, on the other hand, you want to introduce more potassium and less fat into your diet, eat a plate of shrimp.

In seafood-based dishes where the intense flavor must stand out, add the prawns; reserve the prawns for dishes with a balanced flavor and texture. Enjoy your meal!

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