For years, shrimp has held the crown as the most popular seafood in America. Over a quarter of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is shrimp! Not only is it delicious, cooked and uncooked, and prepared in countless ways in thousands of recipes, it’s also one the most varied seafoods around.
There are dozens of shrimp species with many different names, ways to prepare them, and ways you can buy them: head on or head off. Shell on or shell off. Deveined or intact. Tail on or off. Not to mention cooked, pre-cooked, fresh, frozen, or previously frozen. Oh, and we can’t forget the difference between shrimp and prawns!
So let’s take a deep dive into the world of shrimp, and discover just how varied this delicious sea creature is.
Tasty and Popular Shrimp Varieties
- Pink shrimp
- From the west coast of Florida, pink shrimp are most noticeable as the kind of shrimp most people think of when they picture or talk about shrimp. This shrimp is most recognized by its plump, firm texture and ocean-fresh flavor. It’s the classic shrimp that’s the ideal choice for frying.
- White shrimp
- Around the U.S. these mild, nutty flavored shrimp are a delicious delicacy with a nice firm texture. They can be cooked in a number of ways that include boiling, frying, baking, grilling, and steaming.
- Maine shrimp
- A cold water resident of the Gulf of Maine, these small, pink fellows are another popular variety that are great for salads and adding to recipes that call for a lot of shrimp.
- Tiger shrimp
- For an international flavor, tiger shrimp hail from Asian and African waters where they are typically caught. For grilling and steaming, the firm texture and mild flavor make them the perfect match for those who are first-timers in cooking shrimp.
- Brown shrimp
- Over 55 percent of the shrimp caught domestically are of this variety, and they’re pretty common and available in grocery stores. Their taste is similar to the taste of crawfish, but their unique flavor is a draw to shrimp lovers who prefer to steam or boil them to maintain their flavor.
- Rock shrimp
- The taste of both shrimp and lobster make this variety unique and delicious, plus their texture is very firm, which allows them to maintain their firmness broiled or grilled.
- Freshwater shrimp
- if you’re looking for a really mild tasting shrimp that’s delicious without the “fishy” flavor, freshwater shrimp is the perfect choice for you. The mild flavor and softer texture allows these shrimp to better absorb sauces or rubs. They’re good for grilling or frying and many chefs enjoy cooking with them.
The Varieties within the Varieties!
...The dive gets deeper from here because there are varieties of shrimp within each shrimp variety! Not to overwhelm you, but in the interest of keeping your interest, we’ll just skim the surface (so to speak) of some of the subspecies of the shrimp varieties mentioned above.
Take for example, the Pink shrimp family, where there are three species (at least) of the commercially caught variety of pink shrimp that are routinely sold in the United States. Two are from colder waters around Chesapeake Bay, and one is a warm-water shrimp from the gulf region. The Gulf Pink Shrimp goes by alternate names such as Northern Pinks, Hoppers, and Skippers.
Their small size causes them to be marketed more for salads than anything. Between the cold water and gulf variety however, the taste differs, where the cold water pinks have a stronger flavor profile. The gulf pink shrimp have a milder flavor, with a plump and firm texture. The shrimp turn white when cooked along with accents of pink that appear on their sides.
The Maine Shrimp is also known as Northern Shrimp, and is caught commercially for marketing off the Maine coast. Some of the other names the shrimp are known by are Northern Pink Shrimp, Pink Shrimp, Deepwater Prawn, and Great Northern Prawn. Their flavor has a sweet delicate taste to it, and shares similarities with the Oregon Pink Shrimp. The colder waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific across the world are home to the Northern Pink Shrimp.
Oregon Pink Shrimp are sustainable seafood and available in fresh supply from April to October. After October, you can get them frozen all through the year. Their quantities are large enough for them to be fished commercially while the small size makes them perfect cocktail or salad shrimp. You’ll recognize their taste by the sweetness and delicate texture, along with the classic taste of shrimp. Alternate names of these diminutive babies are Northern Shrimp, Pacific Pink Shrimp, and Salad Shrimp.
Southern Pink Shrimp hail all the way from Cuba and Brazil, and also go by the alternate name Brazilian Pinks.
Rock Shrimp are affectionately regarded as the armadillo of shrimp! That’s because they have a shell that’s hard like a rock. It’s more like the shell of a lobster than a typical shrimp. Their habitat extends from the waters of the Virginia Atlantic coast south into the Gulf of Mexico and down to the Yucatan Peninsula, but they’re considered cold-water shrimp because of cold depths of the sea where they dwell. Rock shrimp have a flavor that can be compared to the spiny lobster, with a texture that’s firm and as taste that’s sweet. They also go by the alternate name of Brown Rock Shrimp.
For the most tender, sweet and delicate shrimp available, Royal Red Shrimp stand out among the rest. They’re shells are pink and rich with vibrant color. And because they live at sea depths that range from 1,200 feet to over a half-mile below, they’re considered cold-water shrimp. They also go by the name Royal Reds.
Sidestripe Shrimp are tender and sweet with a delicious flavor, and in some cases, the female shrimp can sometimes retain eggs under their tail, which can be exceptional in taste when added to a sauce made of butter, or when they’re smoked or brined lightly. You’ll find Sidestripe Shrimp also named Alaskan Side-stripe Shrimp, Sidestriped Shrimp, Spot Prawn (though not a bonafide Spot Prawn).
A shrimp by any name...
...is simply delicious on salads, in sandwiches, a main dish, a cocktail, in an omelette, and the countless, endless ways to enjoy shrimp. Juicy, succulent shrimp will always have a special place on the menus of restaurants and in the kitchens of cooks everywhere. There are dozens and dozens of shrimp varieties to choose from, all with a special taste and texture of their own.
Lobster Gram can also make your next shrimp dinner a big success with a choice of succulent shrimp that come in a variety of sizes. Our shrimp options are ready to become a part of your next appetizer, seafood dinner, or cocktail drink! Whether you want them cooked, peeled, or deveined, Lobster Gram has a shrimp choice for you that can be delivered fresh from our shore to your door!