Shrimp 101

Tomorrow (May 9) is National Shrimp Day, so now’s as good a time as any to read up on the more commonly seen varieties of shrimp here in the U.S.

Here in the U.S. shrimp are the most consumed type of seafood

Nearly 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in America are imported. BUT many grocers sell Gulf shrimp and when given the opportunity, you should support our local fishermen and fisherwomen and purchase Gulf shrimp … fresh or frozen, they are absolutely THE BOMB!

Imported, farmed shrimp can be 10 times worse for the climate than beef ~ SOURCE

SHRIMP not shrimps, not ever—the word “shrimp” itself is both singular and plural so please, don’t ever say “shrimps.” (Lucky you, you get to learn about crustaceans and have a grammar lesson too!) Moving on, there are hundreds of different species of shrimp, both saltwater and freshwater. But the most common varieties throughout the U.S.—ordered in restaurants and cooked at home—are Gulf, rock, pink, black tiger, and Pacific white.

  • Gulf shrimp are found up and down the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, to southern Florida, to the Yucatan. Gulf shrimp are not farmed (yet) and can be nearly 10 inches in length from tail to head. There are brown, pink and white Gulf shrimp.
  • Rock shrimp are much smaller than Gulf shrimp and are best suited for adding to dishes rather than on their own. Great for salads, to top off pizzas, or tossed into pasta.
  • Pink shrimp are found in the north Atlantic, the north Pacific, and in many other waters throughout the continent. Pink shrimp are about half the size of Gulf shrimp and like rock shrimp, are best suited for add ons rather than a main course.
  • Tiger shrimp, aka giant tiger prawns, are the largest of the species and are excellent grilled. Most of the tigers you see in the U.S. (restaurants and grocery stores) come from Asia.
  • Pacific white shrimp are excellent in shrimp cocktail, or cooked “peel and eat” style. Most everyone who’s ever had shrimp, have eaten this variety as it is the most widely harvested variety in the world.

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

A word on deveining
What about those veins that run up and down the shrimp … so yea, some people don’t care. And that’s fine. And many loyal shrimpers say that removing the “vein” isn’t necessary but me, I have to remove both the underside (which is part of the nervous system) and the top (which is the digestive tract). In smaller shrimp, typically people leave the “veins” in because they’re far less noticeable. But in bigger shrimp, though it is more of an aesthetic thing and really not necessary, most people want it removed because, well, it’s waste (insert poop emoji). As for flavor, some say when left in, it gives the shrimp a grittier texture and a slight muddy flavor … I really can’t say for sure. All I know is ever since I left my mermaid tail behind and became a real person, I have to have both of them removed 😉

Peel-and-eat shrimp are not deveined as the shell isn’t removed until you peel it off

Coming up NEXT on the blog … pan-seared 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

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So my blog, Seafood is The New Black, is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. And over on Seafood in the Circle City, you can read up on my favorite Indianapolis restaurants that serve seafood, and serve it well. As you read along, you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—and some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

One thought on “Shrimp 101

  1. Thank you Shauna for the overview. If ever you’re inclined, I’d like to see a “shrimp 201” or “advanced shrimp” post. Here are some things I’d like to know more about:

    — Have you checked in on any of the producers of Indiana freshwater shrimp? What is the outlook and how does it stack up to ocean shrimp?
    — Is there a shrimp “season” for catching shrimp?
    — How long is the average shrimp boat out in the water and how many pounds does it haul in? How many trips will it make to sea in a season?
    — How far from land do most shrimpers have to go for a catch? Depth of water?
    — What’s it like working on a shrimp boat? How many people are on the typical shrimp boat?
    — How are the shrimp kept “fresh” during that journey at sea? Ice? What preservatives are put on the shrimp?
    — What is the average amount of time between netting and eating for most shrimp (or maybe just the shrimp in Indiana?)
    — What is the typical price per pound of shrimp at the dock (bought wholesale in bulk vs. on the store shelf?)
    — How do the shrimp boats catch mostly shrimp and not fish? Type of net? Location? Sonar? Or, is it a mix and they just throw back the fish?
    — Is there a quota system or limit system? How is the “fishery” preserved?
    — Are the shrimpers primarily independent or are there large corporations that own most of the shrimp boats — what’s the biz model involved in getting shrimp from the sea to the table?
    — How much of our shrimp is farmed? What are the feed inputs and production protocols used in farming shrimp?

    I came here because I saw your bio at the bottom of an article in Edible Indy and it reminded me of a project I’ve had simmering for awhile related to my farm and Florida mullet (you can read about it here: ) . I haven’t followed up on the mullet because of the whole mess with the Okeechobee drainage problems ( ) I’m planning another trip this summer and hopefully I can do some testing for impurities and get a better picture of the quality. Currently, our meat partnership is offering salmon from Tony in Bristol Bay Alaska at below market prices but I’d like to expand to other, less expensive options that I can personally source.

    Keep up the good work!


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