These slightly sweet, mild-flavoured crustaceans are full of interesting science. Take a deep dive into these shrimp-ly fascinating facts.
They change colour when they cook
Most raw shrimp are a gray-black colour. But when you cook them, they turn pink! Why the colour change? Shrimp contain a pigment called astaxanthin that is released when the shrimp reach about 120 degrees. Bonus fishy fact: Salmon have pink flesh because they eat shrimp and krill, a shrimp relative that contains the same pigment.
They come in lots of sizes
There are about 2,000 species of shrimp around the world, and humans eat around 300 of them — from common whiteleg shrimp to beautiful royal red shrimp. Some species are harvested when they’re super tiny, dried, and used in all sorts of dishes, including soups, salads, and stir-fries. On the other hand, black tiger shrimp can grow as long as 13 inches!
The shell is full of flavour
Shrimp shells contain proteins, sugars and compounds called glutamates and nucleotides, which have a savoury umami taste. If you cook shrimp shells, their proteins and sugars undergo a special chemical reaction that gives them even more flavour. But peeling shrimp is a LOT of work! In this recipe, we use peeled shrimp and add another ocean ingredient — clam juice — to boost this dish’s salty seafood flavour.
This flavorful pasta dinner is ‘shrimp-ly’
One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp Pasta
1 pound frozen peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), thawed and tails removed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon plus 3/4 teaspoon salt, measured separately
1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, measured separately
6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup clam juice
4 1/2 cups medium pasta shells (12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice, zested and squeezed from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until shrimp are evenly coated.
- In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes (oil should be hot but not smoking). Add shrimp to the pot and spread in a single layer. Cook shrimp, without stirring, until the edges turn pink, about 1 minute.
- Stir shrimp and cook until pink all over, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off heat. Use tongs to transfer shrimp to a large plate.
- Add garlic, red pepper flakes and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until garlic is just beginning to turn golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Stir in water, broth, clam juice, pasta and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot, until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, 3 to 8 minutes longer. Remove from heat. (Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.)
- Stir in lemon zest and juice, parsley and shrimp. Let sit until shrimp is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve.