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Shrimp and prawns refer to about 2,000 different species of small aquatic animals with a flexible body and long antennae, 10 legs and a fan-shaped tail. While in biological terms, shrimp and prawns belong to different types of crustaceans, they are both very similar in appearance. In commercial farming, fisheries, and at fishmongers, these two terms are often used interchangeably, with regional preferences for one or the other term. So the word “prawn” is more commonly heard in the United Kingdom, while in North America, people mostly use the word ‘”shrimp.”
The different kinds of shrimp are usually identified by the appearance of their skin during fishing (the shell is translucent): gray, pink, brown, etc.
Long considered to be a delicacy, shrimp became popular and affordable ever since the time that enormous factory vessels were used for its fishing, and since it was grown on factory farms (about a quarter of the global market share comes from farming).
Shrimp has an excellent nutritional value: it is a very good source of protein, is low in saturated fat and contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. However, there are huge differences in the nutritional content of shrimp depending on the species, the area of fishing or farming, and the environmental conditions.
Frozen shrimp may have been treated with sulphites and could contain high levels of sodium. So they should be consumed in moderation. Fresh shrimp don’t have this problem, but they are more expensive.
The ideal last-minute fixer, using main ingredients that you can keep in the freezer… just in case!
Rice with smoked ham and shrimp.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on January 28, 2012.