Scampi vs Shrimp vs Prawns

A rose is a rose but is a shrimp a shrimp? A prawn a prawn? And what exactly is scampi?

Here in the U.S. most people call small and medium shrimp, “shrimp” and refer to the larger, jumbo variety as “prawns” or even “scampi.” But many purists insist the term “prawn” should only be used when referencing the Dublin Bay prawn, also known as langoustine. However, the species isn’t found in Dublin Bay, rather, they live off Ireland’s west coast, as well as the Irish and Celtic seas.

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Unlike shrimp, langoustine have pincer claws—similar to lobster only much smaller—and are almost always cooked in their shells with heads intact. Stateside, they’re rarely found in grocery stores or even specialty fish markets, but they are served in a few upscale, restaurants.

Homemade Lemon Shrimp Scampi

As for scampi, in Italy, they call Dublin Bay prawns “scampi,” and other shrimp, simply “shrimp.” But in both Canada and the U.S., the term “scampi” is generally associated with a specific dish; jumbo or giant shrimp (aka prawns) sauteed with garlic and butter, sometimes tossed with pasta.

So what is the ever-popular dish “shrimp scampi”? Depending on where you are, “shrimp scampi” could be considered a redundancy as it’s a bit like ordering “chai tea” as the word “chai” means tea in Indian. But to each their own. Because as a rose is still a rose by any other name, shrimp scampi, is still delicious no matter if it’s being made with shrimp or prawns.

Coming up NEXT on the blog … All things halibut and grouper. Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews | @shaunanosler

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DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then.  xoxox