Prawn or shrimp? Tiger or King? With so many different types of this shellfish available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. From tiger prawns to king prawns, Argentinian red prawns to coldwater prawns, each variety offers its own unique taste and texture.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these types of prawns and the best recipes for each. We’ll answer a few of your common questions too to help you make an informed decision next time you’re shopping for seafood.
Both belong to the same order of crustaceans (Decapoda) and share a few physical characteristics. Prawns and shrimp both have ten legs, exoskeletons (their shells) and live near the bottom of bodies of water.
But they branch off into two different sub-orders and differ in a few distinct ways summarised below:
|Shrimp (suborder Pleocyemata)||Prawn (suborder Dendrobranchiata)|
|Shell structure||Middle plate overlaps front and back plates||Cascading like shingles|
|Body Shape||Because of the shell structure, they tend to be curved||More straight|
|Legs||First pair of legs have pincers. Two pairs have claws.||Second pair of legs have pincers. Three pairs have claws|
|Reproduction||Carry fertilised eggs under tail||Release fertilised eggs to water|
|Size||Usually bigger||Usually smaller|
|Habitat||Mostly fresh water||Fresh water and salt water|
Now to the most important question: Do prawn and shrimp taste different?
The answer is – not really! There are differences in flavour but this is down to the specific species and not because they are shrimp or prawns. That is why generally in layman’s terms (and for cooking purposes), shrimp and prawn can be used interchangeably. (We do note that here in the UK, the term “prawn” is more commonly used, while in other parts of the world, such as the US, “shrimp” is the preferred term.)
Different Types of Prawn and Shrimp: All You Need to Know
Now that the prawn vs shrimp debate is out of the way, let’s take a look at the various types of prawn and shrimp we commonly see at your fishmonger or supermarket. We will talk about appearance, flavour, and of course, some great recipe ideas and methods of cooking.
King Prawn Appearance and Flavour
King prawns are a large and meaty type of prawn that are prized for their sweet and delicate flavour. They are also known for their firm, meaty texture, which makes them a popular ingredient in many dishes. King prawns are native to the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and they are commonly found in Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
When cooked, king prawns turn a bright pink colour and have a slightly translucent appearance. They are often compared to lobster tail or jumbo shrimp in terms of taste and texture.
King Prawn Preparation and Recipes
King prawns can be prepared in a variety of ways, from grilling and sautéing to boiling and steaming. Some popular dishes that feature king prawns include prawn cocktail, prawn linguine, and prawn stir-fry.
One of the most popular ways of cooking king prawns is grilling or barbecuing them with a marinade of olive oil, garlic, lemon, and herbs. Another popular method is stir-frying them with vegetables and a spicy sauce, such as Thai green curry, Szechuan-style, or other Asian chilli sauce.
For raw, whole King Prawn, order here.
Tiger Prawn Appearance and Flavour
Tiger prawns are slightly larger than king prawns and have a more robust flavour. They are native to the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and they are commonly found in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. They have a distinct striped pattern on their shells which gives them their name.
When cooked, tiger prawns turn a bright orange colour and have a firm and slightly chewy texture. They have a slightly sweet and earthy taste, and they are often compared to shrimp or crayfish in terms of flavor.
Tiger Prawn Preparation and Recipes
The tiger prawn’s size and firmness allow it to hold up well whether grilled, sauteed, or boiled. Some popular dishes that feature tiger prawns include garlic prawns, prawn skewers, and prawn fried rice.
One of the most popular ways of cooking tiger prawns is grilling or frying them with garlic butter or a spicy Cajun seasoning. You can also serve them as Spanish-style gambas al ajillo or an Italian-style spaghetti alle vongole. If you are in the mood for a mix of sweet, spicy, and tanginess, try Prawn Balchão, a Goan dish that involves marinating prawns in a mixture of vinegar, red chilies, and spices, and cooking them in a tomato and onion-based sauce.
For raw whole Tiger Prawns, order here.
Argentinian Red Prawns
Argentinian Red Prawn Appearance and Flavour
Argentinian red prawns are known for their sweet and buttery flavour. They are native to the cold waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Argentina, and they are often considered a delicacy due to their unique taste and texture.
When cooked, Argentinian red prawns turn a bright red colour and have a firm and meaty texture. They are often compared to langoustines or lobsters in terms of taste and texture.
Argentinian Red Prawn Preparation and Recipes
One popular recipe for Argentinian red prawns is prawn ceviche. This is a light dish with a wonderful mix of acidity and spice. Serve the ceviche with tortilla chips or on a bed of lettuce for a refreshing and flavorful appetiser or light meal.
Another interesting recipe is Langostinos a la Parrilla (Grilled Prawns), a traditional Argentinian dish that involves grilling prawns on a skewer and serving them with a chimichurri sauce made of parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil.
For raw, whole Argentinian Red Prawns order here.
Coldwater Prawn Appearance and Flavour
Coldwater prawn should actually be called a shrimp – check the full scientific taxonomy here. But for simplicity’s sake, we will refer to them as prawn for this article.
They are also known as northern prawns and are smaller and sweeter than King Prawns or Tiger Prawns. They are native to the cold waters of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, and they are commonly found in Norway, Iceland, and Canada. Coldwater prawns are often considered a delicacy due to their unique flavor and texture.
When cooked, coldwater prawns turn a pale pink colour and have a sweet and delicate flavour. They are often compared to smaller shrimp or crawfish in terms of taste and texture.
Coldwater Prawn Preparation and Recipes
Some popular dishes featuring coldwater prawns include shrimp cocktails, salads, and sandwiches. For the seafood salad or sandwich, you can mix the prawn with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and herbs.
You can also try coldwater prawns in Prawn Skagen. This traditional Swedish dish mixes prawns with mayonnaise, crème fraîche, dill, and red onion, served on a slice of rye bread.
You can order cooked and peeled Coldwater Prawns here.
Prawn and Shrimp FAQs
How do you cook prawns? How long is the cooking time?
Prawns and shrimp are relatively small in size with very little fat. Cooking time must be quick to prevent overcooking and turning them rubbery and dry. Depending on size, stir fry should take 2-6 minutes, barbecue 3-4 minutes on each side, and poaching 3-10 minutes. You will know they are cooked when the flesh is no longer translucent and is firm, not spongy.
Are prawns good for you?
Prawns are low in fat and calories, but high in protein. They are also a useful source of essential minerals like iodine, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus that help the thyroid, immunity, and growth and repair of tissues and cells. And they provide vitamin E and the B group of vitamins B12, which act as an antioxidant and help with energy production respectively.
A healthy balanced diet includes at least two portions of fish and seafood a week. You can count prawns and shrimp in this category of seafood.
Just note that prawns and shrimp do have naturally occurring cholesterol while being low in saturated fat. They also tend to have higher sodium than white fish and are known as one of the 14 most common allergens in the UK. You may have sensitivities and be advised to avoid these.
Can you eat prawns when pregnant?
Yes, pregnant women can safely eat prawns and shrimp as long as they are well-cooked and fresh.
Can dogs eat prawns?
Yes, in small portions, this shellfish is also healthy for dogs. Just be sure it is well-cooked and remove the head, shells, and tails to avoid choking accidents.
Where To Buy Prawns
If you want to try some delicious fresh or frozen prawns, visit Glasgow’s Fish Plaice today. We deliver nationwide.