Shrimp facts

Here's an extensive assortment of shrimp facts for everyone who wants to know a bit more about our favorites food.

• The Latin word for shrimp is Squilla. Food historians tell us that both ancient Romans and Greeks had ready access to very large specimens and enjoyed shrimp prepared in many different ways. The ancient Roman author, Apicius,  collected many shrimp recipes in his cookbook.

• shrimp are divided into three basic categories: cold-water or northern; warm-water, tropical, or southern; and freshwater.

• Cold-water shrimp inhabit the northern Atlantic (Pandalus borealis)

• Cold-water shrimp inhabit the northern Atlantic (Pandalus borealis) and northern Pacific (Pandalus jordoni).

garlic prawn

• The oldest reference to shrimp cocktail in the New York Times is an advertisement:

Pride of the Farm Tomato Catsup. Cocktail Sauce for Christmas Dinner. Start you dinner with an appetizer. An oyster, clam or shrimp cocktail gives tone as well as relish ... For shrimp cocktail, mix the shrimp and catsup together and serve in small glass dish at each place.

---New York Times, December 15, 1926 (p. 30)

• Cold-water shrimp are very small and do not have to be deveined before eating

• brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) have reddish brown shells, and their meat has a strong flavor because of a higher iodine content.

" Shrimp ... a term which always refers to certain crustceans ... in the order of Decapoda Crustacia ... but which, with the associated term 'prawn', is used in different ways on the two sides of the Atlantic--and in other parts of the world, depending on whether the use of the English language has been influenced by the British or by Americans.
Since the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) has taken the trouble to produce a comprehensive Catalogue of Shrimps and Prawns of the World (Holthuis, 1980), they may be allowed to explain: 'we may say that in Great Britain the term 'shrimp' is the more general of the two, and is the only term used for Crangonidae and most smaller species. 'Prawn' is the more special of the two names, being used solely for Palaemonidae and larger forms, never for the very small ones.
In North America the name 'prawn' is practically obsolete and is almost entirely replaced by the word 'shrimp' (used for even the largest species, which may be called 'jumbo shrimp'). If the word 'prawn' is used at all in America it is attached to small pieces."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2006 (p. 720)

• Although classified as white, the shells of (Penaeus setiferus) are actually greenish gray

• Pink shrimp (Penaeus duorarum) come in a variety of colors, including brownish pink and lemon yellow.

• "The terms shrimp and prawn are used almost interchangeably. Americans primarily use the word "shrimp" for large and small crustaceans in the Penaeidae and Pandalidae families. Elsewhere in the world "prawn" usually describes a smaller creature."
---Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2007 (p. 536)

• The freshwater shrimp known as the Malaysian prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is farm raised in Hawaii, California, and other states. These shrimp are large and can reach a weight of 4-6 ounces

• Shrimp are sold by count, which is expressed as a numerical range of shrimp per pound.

• Shrimp can be served cold or hot.

• About 2000 species of true shrimps are known

• dishes containing scampi should be made from the Norway lobster, a shrimp-like crustacean more closely related to the lobster than shrimp

• shrimp is high in calcium and protein but low in food energy

• in biological terms prawns are of a distinct biological suborder of Decapoda,

• Freshwater shrimp commonly available for aquaria include the Japanese marsh shrimp Caridina multidentata

• Amano shrimp, has this name as their use in aquaria was pioneered by Takashi Amano,

• The aquaculture business for the cultivation of marine shrimp or prawns for human consumption began in the 1970s.

• About 75% of farmed shrimp is produced in Asia, in particular in China and Thailand. The other 25% is produced mainly in Latin America, where Brazil is the largest producer.

• The largest shrimp-exporting nation is Thailand.

shrimp ceviche

• Virtually all farmed shrimp are penaeids (i.e., shrimp of the family Penaeidae), and just two species of shrimp-the Penaeus vannamei (Pacific white shrimp) and the Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn)-account for roughly 80% of all farmed shrimp

• Because shrimp farms are industrial monocultures they are very susceptible to diseases, which have caused several regional wipe-outs of farm shrimp populations

• Shrimp have been farmed for centuries in Asia, using traditional low-density methods. Indonesian brackish water ponds called tambaks can be traced back as far as the 15th century.

• traditional Asia shrimp cultures often were small operations in coastal areas or on river banks. Mangrove areas were favoured because of their naturally abundant supply of shrimp

• industrial shrimp farming can be traced back to the 1930s, when Kuruma shrimp (Penaeus japonicus) was spawned and cultivated for the first time in Japan

• Commercial shrimp farming began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

• Taiwan was amongst the early adopters and a major producer in the 1980s; its production collapsed beginning in 1988 due to poor management practices and disease

• In South America, shrimp farming was pioneered by Ecuador, where it expanded dramatically from 1978

shrimp pil-pil

• Brazil had been active in shrimp farming since 1974, but the trade really boomed there only in the 1990s, making the country a major producer within a few years

• Today, there are marine shrimp farms in over fifty countries

• The female shrimps lay 50,000 to 1 million eggs, which hatch after some 24 hours into tiny nauplii

• Shrimp metamorphosize 3 times from birth to adulthood. Start as nauplii, zoeae, myses, postlarvae. The whole process takes about 12 days from hatching.

• Recently hatched shrimp or nauplii feed on yolk reserves within their body and then undergo a metamorphosis into zoeae.

• Zoeae is the second larval stage of shimp and feed in the wild on algae and after a few days metamorphoses again into the third stage to become myses.

• Myses, the third larval stage of shrimp already look like tiny shrimp and feed on algae and zooplankton. After three to four days they metamorphose a fourth time into postlarvae: young shrimp having all the characteristics of adults.

• Adult shrimp are benthic animals living primarily on the sea bottom

• Most shrimp farms produce one to two harvests a year; in tropical climates, a farm may even produce three.

• Galveston hatcheries (named after Galveston, Texas, where they were developed) are large-scale, industrial hatcheries using a closed and tightly controlled environment.

• Galveston hatcheries breed the shrimp at high densities in large (15 to 30 ton) tanks. Survival rates vary between zero and 80%, but typically achieve 50%.

• Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei, also called "whiteleg shrimp") is the main species cultivated in western countries. Native to the Pacific coast from Mexico to Peru, it grows to a size of 23 cm. P. vannamei accounts for 95% of the production in Latin America.

• "Prawn. A Crustacean in the order of Decapoda. Prawns differ in the appearance from shrimps in having more slender abdomens and longer legs but the names are used synonymously in commercial trade.
Unfortunately, at market "prawn" is universally applied to any of the larger marine shrimps.
The less familiar term "freshwater prawn" refers to paleamonid shrimps, specifically Macrobrachium of which there are more than 100 species on a world basis.
The giant Malaysian prawn (M. rosenbergii) is perhaps the best known and is widely cultured in southern Asia as well as Hawaii and more recently in Puerto Rico.
The Tahitian prawn (M. lar) is also widely distributed in the western Pacific Islands, and other species are indigenous to India, the Philippines, Africa, Central and South America.
A large native from (M. acanthurus) is found in southern U.S. from the Neuse River in North Carolina to Texas. However, freshwater prawns are only utilized on a local level by individual fishermen at present.
Stricly speaking, prawns are andromonous and not totally freshwater curstaceans, but they are harvested in rice fields, ponds and rivers."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 247-8)

• Giant tiger prawn (P. monodon, also known as "black tiger shrimp") occurs in the wild in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Australia. The largest of all the cultivated shrimp, it can grow to a length of 36 cm and is farmed in Asia.

• 1.6 million tonnes of shrimp were farmed in 2003, representing a farm-gate value of nearly 9 billion U.S. dollars.

• The largest buyer of shrimp is the United States, importing more than 500,000 tonnes in 2003.

• Japan imports about 250,000 tonnes of shrimp a year.

• The four major European shrimp importing countries are France, Spain, the UK, and Italy. Together they import about 500,000 tonnes annually.

shrimp soup

• "There have always been customers for shrimp ready to fall upon them whenever and wherever they could be delivered. In the ancient Mediterranean world, where fishing was on an artisan scale and almost everybody lived close to the water, the Greeks preferred the larger types of shrimp even to lobster, and cooked them wrapped in fig leaves. The Romans made the finest grade of all their all-purpose sauce, liquamen, from shrimps. When Apicius heard that there were particularly large, luscious ones in Libya, he chartered a ship to sample them on the spot himself, but he was so much disappointed by the first ones brought to him aboard ship that he sailed home without ever setting food on shore."
---Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World, Waverley Root [Smithmark:New York] 1980 (p. 460)

• For commercialization, shrimps are graded and marketed in different categories:

  1. HOSO are complete shrimps known as "head-on, shell-on",
  2. P&D shrimps are peeled and deveined.

• "Shrimp on the barbie" is a phrase that came from a series of television ads by the Australian Tourism Commission from 1984 through to 1990 Paul Hogan said "I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you".

• "Prawns are more perishable than marine shrimps and must be iced or flash frozen immediately after capture. Only the tail portion is eaten. The always sweet meat is comparable to lobster in texture and flavor."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 247-8)

• "Barbie" is Australian slang for "barbecue," but the phrase "slip a shrimp on the barbie" isn't typical. Australians use the word "prawn" rather than "shrimp".

• Australian prawns are usually purchased cooked and served cold during warm weather prepared and much less commonly, on a barbecue such as was promoted in the advertisement which made the phrase "shrimp on the barbie" famous.

• "In Italy ... shrimp was at its best in the tidal reaches of the River Liris in southern Latium. This river reached the sea at Minturnae. Now it was at Minturnae, according to legend, that Apicius lived--eighty years before Marital's time--and enjoyed the local magnificent shrimps, which grow bigger than the shrimps at Smyrna, bigger indeed than the lobsters at Alexandria' to quote Athnaeus ... Pliny the Younger boasted of good shrimps a little further north, at his Laurentan villa. Shrimps danced when roasted on the coals, Ophelion tells us ... They were served honey-glazed at the dinner described by Philoxenus, and in general in ancient cuisine they were roasted, or fried in a skillet, rather than boiled."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 301)

• The crustaceans (Crustacea) are a large group of arthropods, comprising almost 52,000 described species ,[1] and are usually treated as a subphylum which include various familiar animals, such as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp and barnacles.

• Crustaceans are among the most successful animals, and are as abundant in the oceans as much as insects are on land.

• Over half of animals in the world are marine copepod crustaceans

• The scientific study of crustaceans is known as carcinology.

• Crustaceans have three distinct body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen

• The Crustacean head bears two pairs of antennae, three pairs of mouthparts, and usually eyes (two compound eyes, an unpaired eye, or both).

• crustaceans have a stiff exoskeleton, which must be shed to allow the animal to grow (ecodysis or molting).

• most crustaceans have separate sexes, which are distinguished by appendages on the abdomen called swimmerets or, more technically, pleopods (penis).

• Malacostraca - the largest class of crustaceans contain the most familiar animals, including crabs, lobsters, shrimp, krill and woodlice.

• The Malacostraca (Greek: "soft shell") are the largest class of crustaceans and include most of the animals that non-experts recognize as crustaceans, including decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp).

• The decapods or Decapoda (literally means "ten footed") are an order of crustaceans within the class Malacostraca, including many familiar groups, such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp.

• Most decapods are scavengers

• all decapods have ten legs; these are the last five of the eight pairs of thoracic appendages characteristic of crustaceans

• The front three pairs function as mouthparts and are generally referred to as maxillipeds

• Classification within the order Decapoda depends on the structure of the gills and legs, and the way in which the larvae develop, giving rise to two suborders: Dendrobranchiata and Pleocyemata.

• Dendrobranchiata is a sub-order of decapod crustaceans, consists of prawns, including many species colloquially referred to as "shrimp", such as the Atlantic white shrimp. Pleocyemata includes the remaining groups, including true shrimp.

• Pleocyemata is a sub-order of decapod crustaceans, erected by Martin Burkenroad in 1963. Burkenroad's classification replaced the earlier sub-orders of Natantia and Reptantia with the monophyletic groups Dendrobranchiata (prawns) and Pleocyemata. Pleocyemata contains all the members of the Reptantia (which is still used, but at a lower rank--this includes crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and others), as well as the Stenopodidea (which contains the so-called "boxer shrimp" or "barber-pole shrimp"), and Caridea, which contains all the true shrimp.

• Caridea, united by a number of features, the most important of which is that the fertilised eggs are incubated by the female, and remain stuck to the pleopods (swimming legs) until they are ready to hatch.

• Dendrobranchiata are similar in appearance to shrimp, but can be distinguished by the gill structure which is branching in prawns (hence the name, dendro="tree"; branchia="gill"), but is lamellar in shrimp. The sister taxon to Dendrobranchiata is Pleocyemata, which contains all the true shrimp, crabs, lobsters, etc.

• In the United States, according to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the word "prawn" usually indicates a freshwater shrimp or prawn

• The first mention of  shrimp scampi in the New York Times was a restaurant advertisement published May 9, 1956 for The Tenakill Restaurant in Englewood NJ

• In Middle English, the word "prawn" is recorded as prayne or prane; no cognate form can be found in any other language.

• "Prawn (Macrobrachium acanthurus). A Crustacean similar to a shrimp but with a more slender body and longer legs. The name is from Middle English prayne. At market the term prawn is often used to describe a wide variety of shrimp that are not prawns at all. The only native American species is found in the South, ranging from North Carolina to Texas. Prawns are cultivated in Hawaii."
---Encyclopedia of American Food& Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 255)

• The word shrimp derives from Middle English shrimpe, meaning "pygmy" or the crustacean itself.

• Shrimp harvesting was practiced as early as the seventeenth century in Louisiana, where bayou inhabitants used seine nets up to two thousand feet in circumference. It wasn't until after 1917 that motorized boats used trawl nets to catch shrimp.

• Scampi is the plural of scampo, the Italian name for the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus), also known as the Dublin Bay prawn (especially in Ireland and the U.K.) and langoustine (the French name).[

• The Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, (also called Dublin Bay prawn, langoustine or Scampi), is a slim orange-pink lobster up to 24 cm long found in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and North Sea as far north as Iceland and northern Norway, and south to Portugal; it is not common in the Mediterranean except in the Adriatic, notably the north Adriatic.

• The benthic zone is the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water such as an ocean or a lake, including the sediment surface and some sub-surface layers. Organisms living in this zone are called benthos.

• Shrimp are Detritivores (or detritus feeders) which are animals and plants that consume detritus (decomposing organic material), and in doing so contribute to decomposition and the recycling of nutrients.

• Scavengers are animals that consume already dead animals (carrion).

• Shrimp are distinguished from the superficially similar prawns by the structure of the gills,

• A gill is an anatomical structure found in many aquatic organisms. It is a respiration organ whose function is the extraction of oxygen from water and the excretion of carbon dioxide.

• To test a shrimp for freshness make sure they are dry and firm.

• 1 pound of shrimp in the shell is enough for 3 servings

• Uncooked shrimp in the shell is often called "green" shrimp

• To end up with 1 pound of cooked shrimp you need to buy between 2 and 2 1/2 pounds of raw, unpeeled, or "green", shrimp.

• Shrimp can be cooked both in the shell or peeled. Cooking in the shell adds considerable flavor.

• To avoid tough curled shrimps, drain them immediately when finished cooking.

• Some rather pointless digital shrimp magic ... good for little else but wasting a bit of time:


shrimp wizard

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