Buying tiger prawns can be challenging, with many of the different species available being difficult to identify, leading to some confusion among consumers. Tiger prawn shells may range in color from red, orange, or yellow to a pale grey color. These colors are often visible when looking at the shell up close because they will reflect light differently depending on its color. These colors can also help identify them, for example, if there is white or pinkish coloring in dark-colored shells and pale tan or golden tinge of yellow on orange-colored ones. Black specks are present on the shells of all tiger prawns. The coloring of their flesh can also vary, with many species having a dark red color.
Tiger prawns, sometimes called “shrimp,” are a wide variety of prawns found in markets throughout the United States. They are native to Asia and are considered one of the best kinds of prawns available. Many varieties have different names depending on where they’re from or what part of their lives they’re at; for example, white prawns and black tiger prawns refer to different phases in a tiger prawn’s life cycle. Here, we’re focusing on fresh tiger prawns that are harvested before reaching sexual maturity. Their scientific name, Penaeus monodon, is also known as them. Tiger prawns have long, thin bodies with brown and orange stripes that run along the length of their bodies. Their heads have small black eyes and a pair of very long antennae, which detect changes in water pressure and temperature to help them find food. They also have a pair of mandibles, which they use to break open their food or crush the shells of their prey.
Tiger prawns are benthic creatures that live in both marine glasses of water and brackish estuaries, where freshwater meets saltwater. They can be found in tropical and subtropical areas and grow to the sizes of a pencil eraser. While they’re considered a delicacy, tiger prawns can also be dangerous to humans. Anecdotal accounts have reported people getting sick due to consuming tiger prawns they were unfamiliar with. However, some food poisoning incidents have been recorded that are likely caused by other foods consumed alongside the tiger prawns. These products may include freshwater clams, oysters, or mussels.
Some parts of the tiger shrimp’s life cycle cannot be identified by looking at their shell alone because certain stages are too small for the shell to contain them.