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There are two main types of shrimp: cold water shrimp and warm water shrimp. Practically speaking most of the domestic shrimp available in U.S. markets is of the warm water variety and is caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Thailand and South America, however, have become a major exporters of shrimp to the world.
There are three main species of shrimp – white, pink and brown.
Brown shrimp have a stronger flavor because of a high iodine content. I have actually purchased brown shrimp that I couldn’t eat because of the strong iodine flavor (this is rare).
White shrimp have shells that are a gray green color. White shrimp are more delicate in flavor and, as such, generally cost more but are your best choice. The Mexican white shrimps are very good but most white shrimp in the market are farm raised in China.
Pink shrimp range in color from pink to a light yellow. The most common shrimp in markets today is known as the Black Tiger shrimp. These are mostly farmed in Asia and are not of very consistent quality.
Most shrimp in the markets has been frozen (see Freshness of Shrimp), but freezing doesn’t affect the flavor as much as with other fish. They are sold by size, and the grading system (which isn’t very accurate) based on the number of shrimp per pound. Small shrimp will have 36 – 45 per pound, medium 31 – 35, large 21 – 30, extra large 16 – 20 and jumbo, which are 11 – 15 per pound.
Colossal shrimp (less than 10 shrimp per lb.) are often referred to as Prawns in this country, although prawns are actually a different species.
4 ounces shrimp = 120 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 23g protein, 1g carbohydrates, 167mg sodium, 170mg cholesterol, Vitamin K 0mcg