Species Description

While six different species are landed in Louisiana, over ninety percent are White Shrimp and Brown Shrimp.

Market Name:White Shrimp
Scientific Name: Litopenaeus setiferus
Common Name (s):White Shrimp,Lake Shrimp, White Prawn
White shrimp have traditionally been considered the premium large shrimp of Louisiana.  Fishermen usually receive slightly more for white shrimp than other shrimp.

White shrimp are slightly more tender than other shrimp and their shells are slightly softer and easier to peel than other shrimp.  Also, large white shrimp do not develop the slight iodine taste that other large shrimp do.

Market Name:Brown Shrimp
Scientific Name: Peneaus aztecus
Common Name (s):Brazilian shrimp, Brown prawn
Brown shrimp provide the bulk of Louisiana’s huge production of small shrimp.  Differences between brown shrimp and white shrimp, especially in the smaller sizes, are very slight.

Brown shrimp are slightly firmer shrimp and when they reach a large size, sometimes develop a slight iodine taste.  This may or may not be noticeable to the average palate.

How to Buy

Shrimp are sized by how many are in a pound with the price increasing as the shrimp become larger.

The freshest shrimp of all are still alive.  Their coloring is greyish olive or pinkish tan with translucent flesh.

Fresh (non-live) shrimp indicate they are losing freshness when the head begins to turn black. If the head shows some black color, but the meat in the tail still appears translucent, then it is still fresh.  Their shells should be translucent and moist, not dull or dry.  Shells should not be slippery, have black edges or spots. There should be no drying on the meat.

Shrimp should have a mild fresh smell of the sea.  Never buy seafood with an off odor or a strong ammonia smell.

Frozen shrimp with the head removed have meat that is white in color.

Shrimp will occasionally have a shell discoloration called black spot or melanosis.  This is not caused by bacteria and is not spoilage, but rather an enzymatic reaction caused by naturally occurring amino acids and sunlight.  The shrimp are still be of good quality and safe to eat.

Outside the coast states, shrimp are frequently sold peeled and deveined (P&D) in frozen five pound blocks.  Frozen shrimp should be packaged in a moisture and vapor proof wrap that fits closely around the product.  There should be no ice crystals or other signs of thawing and refreezing.

Check for the Country-of_origin label and always purchase shrimp from the USA as America’s quality standards are the highest.

Always check for date packaged.

Grocery stores may also defrost P&D shrimp, display them on ice and sell them by the pound.

How to Eat

Turn the shrimp on its back, so that the side with the legs is exposed. On that side, near the top of the shrimp, place thumbs in the middle and pull the shell apart. The shrimp shell is very thin and will come off easily. Just pull apart the whole under side, from the legs to where the tail begins, and the shell will come off in one large piece.  If serving the shrimp whole as an appetizer you can keep the tail intact, as it makes a convenient handle.


Refrigerate shrimp in cling wrap or airtight containers in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  Keep your refrigerator at 32 to 38 degrees F.  For best flavor and quality, use fresh shrimp within one to two days.  Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days.

Place frozen shrimp in home freezer immediately after purchase until ready to use.  Keep freezer at 0 degrees F or below. 

If purchasing raw shrimp for freezing, twist off the heads.  Place headless, shell-on shrimp in freezer bags with ice water.  Expel air and seal bags.  Spread bas out in freezer for quick freezing.  Shrimp maintain their quality for twelve months.

Thaw frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. 

Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days.

How to Prepare

Shrimp can be cooked with the shell and head still on, which can both be removed after cooking, or the shell and head can be removed before cooking.

Shrimp can be cooked with the shell and head still on, which can both be removed after cooking, or the shell and head can be removed before cooking. If possible try to cook shrimp with the shell intact, as this will ensure a stronger and tastier flavor, with extra moisture added from the shell.

Deveining the shrimp is a matter of taste.  Some people choose to remove the black “vein” that runs along the back of the shrimp.  These veins are in fact edible but can sometimes taste gritty, particularly with larger shrimp. While it isn’t necessary to remove the vein, some people say the shrimp look and taste better when de-veined.

  • Shrimp cook well in or out of their shells, but they’re easier to de-vein before cooking.
  • Run the de-veiner or the tip of a small knife down the back of the shrimp. This will allow you to remove the vein.
  • You may remove the shell at this time or boil with shell on and remove after cooking.
  • If frying, shell should be removed first.
  • You can de-vein shrimp while leaving the shell on (the shell adds flavor and can protect the meat if you’re grilling the shrimp.)
Serving Size

One pound of head-on white shrimp will yield .649 pounds after deheading.
One pound of head-on brown shrimp will yield .621 pounds after deheading.

Cooking Techniques
Bake, Blacken, Boil, Broil, Deep Fry, Grill, Microwave, Poach, Sauté, Sear, Steam
Seafood Seasons

Because shrimp freeze extremely well, product is available year-round.
White shrimp are caught fresh April through December.
Brown shrimp are caught fresh April through February.

Seafood seasons Serving size How to prepare Storage How to eat How to buy Species Info