If you order shrimp, are you getting prawns? Are they the same animal? What are the differences between a shrimp and a prawn?
The Short Answer:
No, shrimp and prawns are completely different animals.
The Long Answer:
You might look at a shrimp and a prawn and think they’re the exact same thing. Biologically speaking, you would be wrong. They are completely different animals. However, their taste and use in cuisine are practically identical. While not the same animal, shrimp and prawns are completely interchangeable when it comes to cooking.
So, what’s the difference between these tiny shellfish? Prawns have claws on three of their five pairs of legs, whereas shrimp have claws on two of their five pairs of legs. The shape of their bodies and gills also differ.
Many people consider prawns to be larger than shrimp, but that’s not necessarily true. Some variations of prawn are indeed larger than shrimp, but there are tiny prawns and big shrimp as well.