Shrimp, before it’s cooked, is a very unappetizing gray-blue color. This color, it turns out, is the exoskeleton (you know, the shrimp’s external skeleton).
Now, to explain how that exoskeleton turns pink we have to get scientific on you. Here we go: the exoskeleton contains carotenoids (which are pigments) called astaxanthin. It is these carotenoids that are what give salmon its pink color. Before the shrimp is cooked the astaxanthin is covered by protein chains called crustacyanin. The protein chains in fact wrap up the astaxanthin, concealing its lovely pinkish-red color.
But heat loosens the hold these protein chains have on the carotenoids and releases the astaxanthin, turning the shrimp its lovely shade of pink. This is the same reason lobsters turn red when you cook them.
One more fun fact: if you’ve ever heard that flamingos are pink because they eat shrimp, it’s because of this same carotenoid. While flamingos eat shrimp that still appear blueish gray (they don’t have the luxury of cooking them before eating), the crustacyanin protein chain dissolves in digestion ― releasing the carotenoid that makes flamingo feathers more pink.
Now that you know why, watch the magic happen with these shrimp recipes.
- 1Hawaiian Shrimp Truck Special (Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp)Half Baked Harvest
- 2Shrimp Pasta With Broccoli PestoGimme Some Oven
- 3Big Easy Style Saucy Creole ShrimpHalf Baked Harvest
- 4Italian Shrimp And GritsA Spicy Perspective
- 5Prosciutto-Wrapped ShrimpGimme Some Oven
- 6Quinoa Tabbouleh With Lemony ShrimpAnnie's Eats
- 7Miso Butter ShrimpSteamy Kitchen
- 8Sweet Chile Shrimp TacosA Spicy Perspective
- 9Garlicky Grilled ShrimpThe Clever Carrot
- 10Shrimp Scampi Zoodles For TwoSkinny Taste
- 11Grilled Chiles Rellenos With Chipotle Peach Mojo ShrimpHalf Baked Harvest
- 12Coconut-Lime Fried Shrimp With Fiery Mango-Peach Jalapeno SauceHalf Baked Harvest
- 13Roasted Basil Butter Parmesan ShrimpHow Sweet It Is
- 14Shrimp Burgers With Chipotle Cream & Coconut Peach SalsaHow Sweet It Is
- 15Shrimp CakesSimply Recipes
- 16Peppery Garlic PrawnsSimply Recipes
- 17Shrimp And Bacon RisottoHow Sweet It Is
- 18Garlic Shrimp In Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and CilantroSkinny Taste
- 19Shrimp Po Boy SandwichSimply Recipes
- 20Fresh Corn Chowder With Bacon + Barbecue ShrimpHow Sweet It Is
- 21Spicy Beer & Butter Shrimp with Cornbread Panzanella SaladHalf Baked Harvest
- 22Shrimp Gumbo With Andouille SausageSimply Recipes
- 23Sweet Chili Shrimp Stir-FryThe Clever Carrot
- 24Thai Firecracker ShrimpSteamy Kitchen
- 25Aloha Teriyaki Shrimp BurgersSkinny Taste
- 26Shrimp DipSimply Recipes
- 27Smoky Paprika Shrimp SkewersSimply Recipes
- 28Ancho Chile, Shrimp And PastaSimply Recipes
- 29Crispy Shrimp PizzaHow Sweet It Is
- 30CioppinoSimply Recipes