It’s a prawn, it’s a shrimp, it’s a delicious crustacean! We’re happy when either lands on our plate, but if you truly need to know the difference, we can point you in the right direction. For the record: you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart by taste-test alone.
Inspect a specimen with its shell intact (otherwise you may never know). Does it have claws on two or three of its five pairs of legs? Two means shrimp, three means prawn. And no legs means you bought your prawns or shrimp pre-shelled and have much less prep work to do. Other ways to tell, keeping in mind that in many parts of the world, especially in the Commonwealth, “prawn” and “shrimp” are interchangable: prawns are typically harvested from fresh water and shrimp from salt, and prawns will usually be larger than shrimp — think tiger prawns, although both shrimp and prawns come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes.
If you find yourself caring way too much whether the fishmonger is trying to pull a fast one on you, remember: it literally doesn’t matter whether you have shrimp or prawns, as long as you don’t overcook either. Maybe re-focus your energies on finding really great olive oil or the perfect skewer for a shrimp/prawn kebab.
Got a bottle of Grand Marnier handy? Here’s a Grand Marnier Prawns Recipe to try.
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