How to choose shrimp

Protagonists of summer saladsfrom traditional preparationsfrom recipes from all over the world and gods special occasion menui shrimp they are a real fish treasure for our table. But how to choose shrimp? Like all fish, to avoid unpleasant inconveniences, it is necessary to contact your trusted fishmonger. It’s also important know the basic rules for recognizing fresh prawns and how to bring them to the table with recipes and preparations that enhance their taste without spoiling the delicate meats.

In this little one shrimp guideyou will learn the difference between prawns and king prawnsyou will know i finest prawns and the most common varieties, and there will also be some curiosities about these truly special crustaceans.

How to choose fresh prawns: 5 rules

He shells

Per recognize the fresh prawnstheir carapace is firm and hard and its appearance is shiny and bright. If they feel soft to the touch and they will tend to break, the ones you are observing are not fresh prawns. The carapace of fresh prawns must be uniform in colour, and must not have black spots on the body and yellow spots on the legs and tail.


Exist different varieties of shrimp and they also differ in color as well as in size and taste. But then what is the color of fresh prawns? Consider that fresh prawns, depending on the species, can be pink, red, brown, gray and even green and brown. For this reason it is always better to inquire about the species you are buying to understand if the color is the right one. Generally the color of the prawns, whatever it is, must be bright and lit.

The smell

Sounds corny and obvious, but fresh prawns are a must have the delicate and saline smell of the sea. If their smell is too strong, unpleasant or reminds you of ammonia, avoid buying them. Shrimp, like all fish, should never smell or smell unpleasant.

The head

Always better to buy prawns than they have heads and antennae. In thawed prawns, the head is often removed, which is the part that tends to deteriorate faster. Nothing wrong with buying defrosted prawns, but if you want them fresh keep this in mind.

The eyes

Another rule for recognizing fresh prawns from dated prawns is the shape and size of the eyes. They must in fact be black, large protruding and shiny. Do the prawns on the counter have little or no eyes at all? Postpone the purchase until next time.

Fresh prawns or frozen prawns?

Let’s immediately clarify the fact that most of the prawns sold in the supermarket are frozen at the time of fishing. There is nothing unusual in this, indeed it is one important sanitary rule and effective that will allow you to have safe and good prawns on the table. Always read the labels, there can be no doubts or unclear information on these. Buy fresh prawns only if you are sure of their origin and of the rules above, otherwise go ahead and buy frozen or thawed prawns.

Most common shrimp varieties and how to bring them to the table

Mediterranean Pink Shrimp

Also known as white shrimp, its size can vary between 6 and 12 cm. It is fished in the Tyrrhenian Sea but also in Sicily and Liguria. try it fried o steamed and seasoned with oil and lemon. In frying, the head and carapace are not eliminated as it is a very delicate prawn.

Boreal prawn

It is a small shrimp caught in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It never exceeds 10 cm and you will only find it frozen. Perfect for cocktails at gamberi or for salads once blanched.

Red shrimp

This is the most prized prawn. It is fished only in the Mediterranean and you will always find it fresh (rarely frozen). Of this species there are several excellences all coming from the Italian seas, such as the Sanremo shrimp with a very delicate taste and a creamy consistency. Another prized prawn is the Gambero Rosso from Mazara del Valloalso with creamy flesh but fiery red in colour, excellent raw or lightly seared for seasoning first dishes.


It is one of most common prawns in Italy and comes from fresh water. The color of this shrimp tends to brown and is found in Veneto, Lombardy, Cilento and Abruzzo. It can reach up to 15 cm.

Prawns and tropical prawns

The prawn is also called imperial prawn and is one native variety of the Mediterranean. Its color is pinkish gray and it can reach up to 20 cm. It is mostly found frozen and is perfect for baking grilled, baked or for first courses. There Tropical Shrimp it comes precisely from tropical countries and you will find it exclusively frozen, it is about 20 cm long and is excellent baked or grilled.

Tiger Shrimp or Black Tiger

It is called so precisely because its carapace is streaked. It is dark gray with stripes, measures around 20cm and you will find it frozen as it comes from Asian farms. Excellent in Asian preparations, Chinese e Japanese.

Shrimp sizes: from prawns to king prawns

Shrimps are classified according to their size. Recognizing them based on size is very simple, you can find the fishmonger’s labels or tags letter U with a number next to it. That number indicates how many of those prawns are needed to get to the kg. Starting from this you can obtain the size of the prawns with this table:

  • Small (51 or more per kg)
  • Medium (36/50 per kg)
  • Large (26/40 per kg)
  • Jumbo (16/25 per kg)
  • Colossal (less than 15 per kg)

Why do cooked shrimp turn red?

It is a curiosity of many, why many prawns change color in cooking and they turn red? As always, science provides us with the answer, in fact heat is capable of destroying all pigments with the exception ofastaxanthinthe red pigment that is present in all shrimp.

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