As the roar of the ocean waves hypnotize you, you slowly turn away from the endless horizon and end up in the warn gaze of your date, you admire her beauty as she’s basked in the flickering candlelight – the waiter at the local popular seafood restaurant approaches, pad and pen in hand, ready to take your orders…you’re thinking this is going to be the perfect evening…
Waiter: “Can I take your order please?”
You: “Absolutely. I’d like some grilled shrimp in garlic butter…I mean prawns…I mean…you know, shrimp…”
Waiter: “So which one is it?”
Sounds familiar? Don’t risk dampening potentially one of the most romantic evenings in your lifetime because of an awkward stumble over prawns and shrimps.
So is there a difference between prawns and shrimps or, are they the same? The myth ends here.
Prawns vs. Shrimps
The earliest known fossil of prawns actually dates back to more than 360 million years.
Biologically speaking, prawns and shrimps belong to different classifications of the decapod crustacean family. Primarily due to their similar appearances, prawns and shrimps have been mistaken to be the same and as a result, the terms “prawn” and “shrimp” are often used interchangeably.
What makes things more difficult is that the use of the terms “prawn” and “shrimp” change from country to country. For example, in the United Kingdom, “prawns” are used in most menus, whereas in North America “shrimp” is the popularized term.
Prawns have longer legs than shrimp, and their second pincers are usually the largest, contrary to the shrimp’s large front pincers.
Prawns are generally larger than shrimp in size. However, it’s common to find frozen “jumbo shrimp” at supermarkets even though they’re actually prawns.
As for flavours, shrimps have a milder profile than prawns; making shrimps the ideal ingredient for salads and co-stars in mains.
Prawns have a stronger and more aromatic flavour and smell. You can smell your meal metres way.
The texture of a prawn is tougher than shrimp, primarily due to its larger musculature and when overcooked, can be as tough as eating rubber bands.
In both cases, the shells of prawns and shrimps are great foundations to any seafood-based broth and can be devoured completely if they’ve been fried until crispy.