Did You Know: There's A Difference Between Shrimp & Prawns

Both taste yummy.

Cover image via EverybodyCraves

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The terms 'shrimp' and 'prawns' are often used interchangeably.

But did you know that they are actually two different sea crustaceans?

If you always thought it was just a difference between US and UK English, you're not alone.

Although they look pretty similar to each other, shrimp and prawns are two completely different species.

What are their differences?

Firstly, they differ in terms of their anatomical features.

Shrimp typically have a slender body with a bend or curve, while prawns tend to have a more elongated body with branching gills.

While both crustaceans have 10 legs, shrimp have claws on two pairs of legs, whereas prawns have claws on three pairs of legs, and their second pincers are the largest.

Prawns are also typically larger in size, which affects their price. So, based solely on size, prawns would usually cost more than shrimp. 

They have different reproductive behaviours

Shrimp carry their eggs on their abdomen after fertilisation, while prawns release their eggs into the water.

Female shrimp will carry their eggs until they hatch into miniature versions of adult shrimp, at which point they are released into the water.

In contrast, female prawns release their eggs into the water after fertilisation. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then go through various stages of development before becoming young prawns.

Image via Gostan Sikit

Although there's a popular belief that they live in different habitats, it's actually not true

Shrimp are often found in saltwater, but there are some that live in freshwater as well.

Meanwhile, prawns are commonly found in freshwater, but they can also live in saltwater.

Bottom line is you can find them in both environments across warm and cool temperatures around the world. It's just a matter of which variety is sold at your grocery store.

In terms of taste, shrimp and prawns are pretty much similar

Some people suggest that prawns have a slightly sweeter, meatier taste, and a firmer texture compared to shrimp, but their tastes really depend on the environment.

The good news is that when cooking at home, you can choose between shrimp and prawns based on your budget, as they have similar tastes.

At the end of the day, while there are some differences between the two critters, their terms can be used interchangeably, depending on where you live

The term 'shrimp' is more commonly used in the US, while the term 'prawn' is often used in European and Asian countries.

Okay, now go 'krill' it out there with all this knowledge! :P

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