What's the Difference? White, Brown, & Freshwater Shrimp

Did you know that Louisiana is home to not one, not two, but actually three different kinds of shrimp? As someone who at one point could only identify shrimp as "those frozen curly things," learning this particular bit of information on my recent trip to New Orleans was a shocker. I had to know more.

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White Shrimp - White shrimp are prized for their large size, their tender texture, and their mild flavor. They are great for shrimp boils, Louisiana BBQ shrimp, and other preparations where they can soak in the flavors of the dish and their texture really stands out. White shrimp season is April through December.

Brown Shrimp - (Pictured above) If you like a stronger, more forward shrimp flavor, brown shrimp is for you. They tend to be smaller than white shrimp and have a firmer texture. This shrimp is great for stuffing, étouffée, and thick stews. Their season is April through February.

Mississippi River Freshwater Shrimp - This is a much smaller operation and you may only be able to find freshwater shrimp locally. They are more similar to crawfish than other kinds of shrimp, and tend to be fairly small, a maximum of four inches according to an Audubon Magazine article. Their season is usually in the summer months as the shrimp migrate down and then back up the Mississippi River.

Brown and white shrimp can be used interchangeably in recipes. I'd love to do a side-by-side comparison at some point! If you don't see it mentioned in the display case, ask your fishmonger what kind of shrimp have on sale that day.

I'm really curious about those freshwater shrimp, especially since it sounds like finding them outside Louisiana might prove difficult. Anyone ever tried these shrimp?

For more information, take a look at these sites:

Shrimp from the Louisiana Seafood Board's Seafood Handbook
BP Oil May Have Added to Uncertain Future of Mississippi River Shrimp by Bruce Reid, Audubon Magazine

Related: Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

(Image: Emma Christensen)