Black Tiger shrimp, aka “King of Prawns” are the most widely distributed and commercially marketed shrimp in the world. In the wild, Black Tiger are harvested along coastlines from the southern tip of Africa to the Sea of Japan. However, about 80 percent of the black tigers on the market are farmed with the majority raised in Asian countries and 30% in Latin America which makes them available year round.
Unlike cold water shrimp, whose meat can be watery and sometimes taste bland, warm water Black Tiger shrimp have a distinctly bold, sweet, firm-textured meat that has earned them the honour of being called the ‘poor man’s lobster’.
Black Tiger Prawns are known for their “tiger stripes” on their shells and tails. Shell colour can range from brown, black, grey to blue and even slightly pink.
Most black-tiger shrimp is sold raw, with shell-on tails. Shrimp are sold with classifications of “jumbo” or “large,” while industry sizing is based on a per-pound value. You will often see shrimp labeled 16/20 or 21/25 which is the number, or count of shrimp per pound. The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp. When it comes to price, generally, the larger the shrimp, the higher the price. Black Tiger Shrimp are usually priced higher than white shrimp but that is primarily because Tiger shrimp grow to larger sizes than white shrimp.
When buying fresh shrimp use your nose! Shrimp should have a fresh fish or clean seaweed smell. Avoid shrimp that have an iodine or ammonia smell. Fresh should appear translucent, shiny, firm, and moist and resilient. The shells should have some iridescent color to them.
Black Tiger are easy to work with – they are easy to peel and forgiving to harsh handling. They can be cooked whole in the shell or with the shell removed before cooking.
Preparing & Cooking Shrimp
If Frozen: Defrost shrimp in the refrigerator or in cold water. Do not defrost in a warm place or microwave. Shrimp deteriorates quickly in warm air, and they need to be kept cold. Once defrosted, shrimp should be prepared and served within 3 days. Do not re-freeze once thawed.
Peeling: Remove the shell before cooking if the shrimp will be served in hot liquid. Leave the shell on if boiling shrimp, or if grilling as the shell protects the meat. Note: Discarded shells can be saved for later use. Bag and freeze them for when you want to make shrimp stock, bisque or seafood soups.
Deveining: Although not necessary, some prefer their shrimp deveined. We recommend investing in a handy shrimp cleaner tool – an indispensable kitchen gadget that splits the shell and removes the vein in one motion!
This video from Epicurious shows you how to easily peel and devein shrimp.
Cooking: Shrimp should be cooked just until it is opaque through the center. The time needed will depend on the cooking method and the size of the shrimp, but generally, shrimp cook in as little as 3 minutes; when they’re pink or reddish, they’re done. Overcooked shrimp will be tough and nearly flavorless; check after two to three minutes of cooking to gauge how much more time is needed.