Quick Answer: What Are Shrimp? Shrimp aren’t fish or seafood. They are instead a type of shellfish. The term shellfish refers to seafood that features an exoskeleton. Aside from shrimp, this classification also refers to lobster, crab, oyster, scallops, and mollusks. Those with shellfish allergies should stay well clear.
Despite being an excellent source of protein and super versatile in the way it can be used in a wide range of dishes, not many people actually know what a shrimp is.
This perfect dinner party treat is often referred to as fish, seafood, and shellfish, but it can’t be all three, so which one is it? Could it actually be none of them? While it may not seem like a big matter to most, those with allergies need to know what sits on their plate.
That’s what we will answer today!
In this post, we’ll tell you exactly what a shrimp is and answer other important questions you’ll need the answer to.
Let’s get started!
Are Shrimp A Type Of Fish?
Despite what many people believe, shrimp isn’t actually a type of fish. The reason for this is pretty simple. Fish have a number of prerequisites that shrimp simply don’t have.
These prerequisites include an internal skeleton, no members or limbs, and a complex central nervous system.
When it comes to shrimp, they have an exoskeleton. This essentially means that their skeleton sits on the outside of the body. Even the shape of this skeleton makes shrimp very different from fish.
The neck, head, and thorax of the fish are relatively flexible and they have muscle over their bone frame and under the skin. Shrimps simply have a hardened, thick case that acts as armor.
Fish also don’t have any discernible limbs, using fins to swim instead. On the other hand, shrimp have 10 different sets of limbs that help propel them through the water. They also have 3 sets of legs.
With all this in mind, the only real thing shrimps and fish have in common is that they both live in the sea.
People tend to confuse the two as they see anything that lives in the sea as a type of fish.
Are Shrimp A Type Of Seafood?
Generally speaking, yes, shrimp is considered a type of seafood. However, it is worth noting that the word seafood is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of animals such as crabs, lobster, oysters, clams, squid, crayfish, clams, sea urchins, octopus, and finally, fish.
Used in an incredibly large range of traditional foods and dishes, seafood has been consumed by people for thousands of years. This is particularly the case in regions with vast seaside areas.
Found in salt water, fresh water, lakes, and rivers, most species of shrimp are native to the coastal floor. They also don’t venture too far out to sea, making it a lot easier to catch them.
Are Shrimp A Type Of Shellfish?
Yes, shrimps are also classified as a type of shellfish.
The word shellfish is used to describe seafood that has an exoskeleton. The word was first used by fishermen and fisheries to easily split specific types of sea life into categories.
Alongside shrimp, the shellfish family is made up of lobster, crab, mollusks, oysters, scallops, and occasionally some species of starfish.
When it comes to the most popular species of shellfish, the shrimp comes out on top. This is in most parts down to its affordability, availability, and versatility. Of course, it also tastes pretty awesome.
Should You Worry About Shellfish Allergies?
Those with shellfish allergies or party hosts cooking for those that do should definitely worry about shellfish allergies.
While it is best to first get checked out with a doctor to find out which foods you can and can’t eat, anyone with a shellfish allergy should steer clear of shrimp.
In fact, they should avoid any sea species that has an exoskeleton until they have been cleared.
The reason you should get this checked is that you might not be allergic to every type of shellfish. Weirdly, some people could be allergic to lobsters, prawns, and shrimp but still be okay to enjoy mussels and scallops.
Bearing this in mind, you might have a shellfish allergy but still be allowed to eat shrimp.
That’s why it’s so important to find out first.
Shrimps Are Crustaceans
Aside from being a type of seafood and shellfish, shrimps are actually also a type of crustacean. Crustaceans form a diverse anthropod of mostly aquatic animals. This includes lobster, crab, barnacles, crayfish, and prawns.
Like its crustacean cousins, the shrimp has no skeletal frame and an exoskeleton on the outside.
One interesting thing about most shrimps and other crustaceans is that they turn a vibrant red, coral-like color when exposed to heat. That is why they appear red once cooked.
Before being exposed to heat, most are gray in color and slightly translucent.
Since it’s very common in the sea, shrimp is a hugely popular seafood all around the world. Every year, incredibly large amounts of shrimp are harvested for us to eat. In fact, over 7 metric tonnes of wild and farmed shrimp are harvested every year.
The most popular species of shrimp is the tiger prawn. The tiger prawn is found in Southeast Asia. Other popular types of shrimp include the northern prawn (found in the North Sea), and the whiteleg shrimp.
Not every shrimp caught is eaten though, some species are considered too small and not worth eating. Those species are left alone.
Which Country Produces The Most Shrimp?
When it comes to the countries that produce the most shrimp for the rest of us to eat, the biggest producers are based in Asia. The Asian countries that catch and export the most shrimp are China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.
Other big producers of shrimp include Brazil and Ecuador.
While these are the countries that export most of their shrimp, American and European countries do the opposite. Instead, they import most of their shrimp as their waters don’t contain shrimp in as high numbers.
Why Is Shrimp So Popular?
Shrimps are an incredibly popular seafood for many reasons. The main reasons they are so popular is because they are so affordable and so readily available.
Compared to other species of shellfish such as lobster, shrimps are much cheaper. They are also a lot easier to get hold of.
That’s not all though!
Shrimp is also regarded as one of the easiest seafoods to eat. Their flavor is delicious, they pair well with other foods, and they are super easy to prepare and cook.
In terms of cooking shrimp, most dishes that use them originated in coastal areas. For example, Spanish paella, sushi, and Italian pasta.
How Do You Cook A Shrimp?
Now you know what a shrimp is and whether or not you can eat it, you’re going to want to know how to cook it.
Thanks to the shrimp’s versatility, there are multiple ways in which we can cook it. These include roasting, frying, boiling, and braising.
While all these methods are great for different reasons, as far as we’re concerned the easiest and tastiest way to cook a shrimp is by frying it on a stovetop.
If you want to quickly and easily cook beautiful tasting shrimps, follow our instructions below:
- First things first, put all your shrimp in a mixing bowl and rub them with your choice of seasoning. Personally, we like to go with paprika, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, and sea salt. Make sure you give your shrimp a good coating.
- Once that’s done, turn your stove on and heat some butter or oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Tilting the pan to coat the whole base.
- When the oil starts to sizzle or butter has melted, add your shrimp. If they don’t sizzle upon impact, you know to leave the pan for longer next time.
- Cook your shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes before flipping them over. If you have a larger species of shrimp, you might need to cook them for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Finally, once your shrimp are nicely cooked, transfer them into a serving dish. You can then serve the shrimp up with your dinner of choice. We normally serve ours in a paella or with pasta.
How Do You Know When The Shrimp Is Done?
Shrimps cook very quickly so it’s important to keep a close eye on things. Otherwise, you might end up burning or undercooking your delicious shellfish.
Undercooked shrimp will have a wide and flexible “U” shape. Overcooked shrimp will form an “O” shape. The perfectly cooked shrimp lies between the two.
A perfectly cooked shrimp will be pink in color with a vibrant red tail. They should form a “C” shape too. As soon as your shrimps look like this, take them out of the pan.
One minute too late or one minute too early will stop your shrimp from being the best you’ve ever had.
What’s The Vein In A Shrimp?
You may have noticed a dark vein in your shrimp. This is actually the shrimp digestive tract. Just like the rest of the shrimp, its digestive tract is super simple.
This vein-like tract doesn’t carry any blood. Instead, it is a tube that serves exactly the same purpose as the human intestines. More often than not, it is filled with grit or whatever else the shrimp had left in its digestive tract at the time of it being harvested.
Should You Devein The Shrimp Before Cooking It?
Despite looking and sounding pretty gross, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cooking the shrimp without deveining it. Having said that, whether you want to is down to personal preference. If you prefer your shrimp without it, great, if not, don’t worry.
Since the digestive tract is situated right under the skin, deveining a shrimp isn’t difficult. All you need is a thin, sharp knife.
With your knife, carefully score the skin next to the vein. You should then be able to pull the vein out with the tip of your knife.
When doing this, you must be careful not to cut right into the vein, this could cause the vein to cut open, making things a little messy.
If you don’t have the time to do this to all the shrimp you plan on cooking, we recommend buying shrimp that has already been deveined.
Are Prawn And Shrimp The Same?
A common misconception people have is that prawns and shrimps are the same things. This is wrong!
Shrimps and prawns have anatomical differences that separate the two.
Prawns are larger and have less bend in their bodies, while shrimp are smaller and more flexible.
Other key differences between the two are:
- Shrimps have lamellar gills whilst prawns have branching gills.
- Shrimp only have two claws on two pairs of legs. Prawns have three.
- Prawns have segmented bodies, all of which overlap. Shrimp only has the first and third segments.
Despite these differences, in the culinary industry, shrimps and prawns are used in exactly the same ways.
Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?
Eating raw shrimp is possible if the shrimp is 100% disease free and contains no viruses and bacteria.
However, we always recommend cooking your shrimp. Not only is it a lot safer, but it also tastes a lot better.
To ensure your shrimp is cooked properly, remember to follow our cooking instructions above.
In some parts of the world, raw shrimp is a delicacy. In our opinion, you should try and avoid this as food poisoning is likely.
Is Shrimp A Meat?
A lot of people don’t consider shrimp to be meat. However, from a vegan and vegetarian standpoint, all animals are considered meat. This includes every type of seafood, including shrimp.
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