Have you never tried prawns before and wondered what to expect from the taste? Prawns look similar to shrimp and can be used in many of the same dishes. But does this mean that you can substitute one for the other? And do prawns taste like shrimp?
Prawns taste a lot like shrimp, though some people describe prawns as having a slightly sweeter taste to their flesh. Tasting, whether seafood is prawns or shrimp, is extremely difficult when cooked. You’ll have better luck distinguishing one from the other by looking at them before shelling.
Despite being similar in taste, there are actually a few differences between prawns and shrimp. To help you understand what sets prawns apart and accounts for their sweeter taste, we’ll discuss where prawns live, how to tell them apart from shrimp, and what you should look for when buying shrimp.
How Do Prawns And Shrimp Differ In Taste And Appearance?
While many people use the terms prawns and shrimp interchangeably, they are actually two different seafood species. You can tell them apart best when they are fresh and still have their shells on. Prawns are slightly bigger than shrimp; they have claws on three legs, while shrimp only have claws on two legs.
The most significant visual difference between shrimp and prawns is that shrimp are curled, and prawns are straight. This is because the segments on a shrimp overlap, giving a tiled effect. In contrast, a prawn’s first segment overlaps the second, and the second overlaps the first.
Of course, you are more interested in the taste differences than their appearance. Well, when it comes to the taste of prawns compared to shrimp, there isn’t much distinguishing them from each other. If you’re eating seafood chowder or paella, you won’t be able to tell if it is prawn or shrimp.
These crustaceans have the same texture and a very similar taste. The only difference is that prawns have a slightly sweeter flesh than shrimp. However, you can only taste the sweetness of prawns when they are served grilled, and there aren’t any other flavors masking their sweetness.
One thing is certain: prawns and shrimp are delicious, and you can use them interchangeably in any seafood dish. Some countries also refer to one as the other, making the distinction in recipes even more obscure.
For example, in Australia, where prawns are mostly harvested and sold, prawns and shrimp are all referred to as “prawns,” and the recipes will all call for prawns, regardless of the crustacean you use. On the contrary, shrimp is the most found in America, and all recipes will refer to shrimp, whether you’re using prawns or real shrimp.
Prawns Vs. Shrimp: Where Are They Found?
Since the only difference in taste between prawns and shrimp is the slight sweetness you get from eating prawns, you may wonder what accounts for the difference in taste. The most likely reason is the location where prawns are found.
Shrimp are saltwater fish and are harvested from the ocean. They can be seen in shallow and deep waters in the ocean and are caught in nets from ships. You can find shrimp almost anywhere in the world and they are eaten globally.
Prawns are primarily found in salty freshwater, sticking to the bottom of lakes and rivers. Prawns are also caught in nets and eaten as seafood. The fact that prawns occur in fresher (less salty) water than shrimp likely causes their flesh to taste sweeter.
Again, shrimp and prawns aren’t the same creatures, but the term is used interchangeably for the two species in many countries. Therefore, you won’t always be certain about which species you are dealing with if they are already shelled and cooked.
Some shrimp species are also found in brackish freshwater, meaning that you can’t be certain which crustacean you have based only on where it was harvested. Not that it matters much whether you have shrimp or prawns. Both crustaceans have delicious, juicy flesh suitable for most seafood dishes.
If you can find prawns, you may wonder which prawns are good to cook with. Buying the freshest prawns possible will help you make a delicious meal and give you the best chance of tasting the sweet flesh prawns you are renowned for.
How To Choose The Perfect Prawns
Since seafood has such a short shelf life, you’ll often find prawns and shrimp in the frozen food section at your grocery store. The prawns may or may not be shelled when buying them. To ensure the prawns are still fresh and safe to use, check that the prawns don’t show signs of freezer burn.
This indicates that the prawns have been frozen for too long and likely won’t taste right. Another thing to consider when buying frozen prawns is solid pieces of ice in the package. This can indicate that the prawns have defrosted at some stage and aren’t safe to consume.
When buying frozen prawns, you can store them in your freezer and thaw them slowly, preferably in the refrigerator, before using them in a dish. When it comes to fresh prawns, there are a few things to consider before buying them.
One of the first things you must look out for is the conditions under which the prawns are kept. The prawns must be kept on ice and in the shade. If you notice a lot of water in the container, take it as a sign that the prawns may have been exposed to eat and are unsafe to consume.
Then, smell the prawns to ensure they are fresh. Prawns should have a fresh, slightly salty smell. If they smell putrid or foul, they most likely are, and you cannot eat them. The prawns should also have bright, shiny shells and look plump to the touch.
When you are sure that the fresh prawns are still fresh and safe to consume, you can put them in a cooler box for transportation. Then, keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator until you are ready to cook them, and remove them from the refrigerator right before cooking.
Best Prawn Dishes
The final thing to do when you have selected and purchased your prawns is to make a delicious dish with them. So many recipes call for prawns and shrimp that you will have no trouble finding one to tickle your taste buds.
Here are some delicious prawn recipes to get you inspired to cook some prawns:
Recipe 1: Vietnamese Prawn and Rice Noodle Salad
Recipe 2: Coconut Crumb Prawns with Lime Aioli
Recipe 3: Prawn Masala
Remember that you can substitute shrimp for prawns in any of the above recipes without sacrificing the taste or texture of the dish.
Prawns taste like shrimp and have a similar texture too. The only difference is that prawns have a slightly sweeter flesh, which you can tell when eating the prawns plainly cooked. Because prawns taste similar to shrimp, you can use these two crustaceans interchangeably when cooking.