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Why Shrimp Turns Pink

Have you ever wondered why it is that uncooked shrimp is a grayish blue color, but when you cook it, the shrimp turns pink?  Recently while watching shrimp being cooked on a tappan grill in a Japanese restaurant, we marveled at how lovely the shrimp looked as it turned from gray to pink simply by cooking it!

So we did a little research on why that happens.  It turns out that the shell of the shrimp is actually its skeleton that is full of protein.  That protein is unstable and when exposed to heat allows the release of a carotene substance in the body of the shrimp which is what causes it to turn a pinkish color.  Carotene is a substance also present in some vegetables and fruits which cause them to have a yellow, orange or reddish color.

We also discovered some interesting facts about shrimp:
1. Several shrimp species serve as cleaners for other fish, removing parasites from different fishes’ mouths.

2. Indo-Pacific shrimp live in tandem with corals, dining on their host’s mucus and protecting them from predators

3. They are loud: Snapping shrimp make louder sounds than any other marine animals, producing a noise with their claws that is greater than a gunshot or jet engine. Navy submarines sometimes hide in beds of snapping shrimp to disguise their location from sonar detection.

4. There are over 128 species of shrimp.

5. They are quite prolific.  A female shrimp can lay up to one million eggs in a single session that will hatch within a 24 hour period.

6. Over five billion pounds of shrimp are produced every single year.

7. One billion pounds of shrimp are eaten every year by Americans.

If all this talk of shrimp is making you hungry,  maybe this weekend is a good time to indulge.  Some of our favorite shrimp dishes and recipes are:

Cocktail Shrimp with Spicy Louie Sauce

Shrimp Salad 4 Ways 

 Lemon Butter Herbed Shrimp

No matter how you eat it, be sure to enjoy it and appreciate the wonder of it turning that lovely pink color!





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