LIFESTYLE

This Is Why Prawns Turn Pink When You Cook Them

01/02/2017 08:00 SAST | Updated 01/02/2017 08:03 SAST
joannatkaczuk via Getty Images

joannatkaczuk via Getty Images

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.

legna69 via Getty Images
"There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich." Point is, flamingos love shrimp.

Now that you know why, watch the magic happen with these shrimp recipes.

1 Hawaiian Shrimp Truck Special (Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp)

Half Baked Harvest
Get the Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp recipe from Half Baked Harvest

2 Shrimp Pasta With Broccoli Pesto

Gimme Some Oven
Get the Shrimp Pasta With Broccoli Pesto recipe from Gimme Some Oven

3 Big Easy Style Saucy Creole Shrimp

Half Baked Harvest
Get the Big Easy Style Saucy Creole Shrimp recipe from Half Baked Harvest

4 Italian Shrimp And Grits

A Spicy Perspective
Get the Italian Shrimp And Grits recipe from A Spicy Perspective

5 Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

Gimme Some Oven
Get the Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp recipe from Gimme Some Oven

6 Quinoa Tabbouleh With Lemony Shrimp

Annie's Eats

7 Miso Butter Shrimp

Steamy Kitchen
Get the Miso Butter Shrimp recipe from Steamy Kitchen

8 Sweet Chile Shrimp Tacos

A Spicy Perspective
Get the Sweet Chile Shrimp Tacos recipe from A Spicy Perspective

9 Garlicky Grilled Shrimp

The Clever Carrot
Get the Garlicky Grilled Shrimp recipe from The Clever Carrot

10 Shrimp Scampi Zoodles For Two

Skinny Taste
Get the Shrimp Scampi Zoodles For Two recipe from Skinny Taste

11 Grilled Chiles Rellenos With Chipotle Peach Mojo Shrimp

Half Baked Harvest

12 Coconut-Lime Fried Shrimp With Fiery Mango-Peach Jalapeno Sauce

Half Baked Harvest

13 Roasted Basil Butter Parmesan Shrimp

How Sweet It Is

14 Shrimp Burgers With Chipotle Cream & Coconut Peach Salsa

How Sweet It Is

15 Shrimp Cakes

Simply Recipes
Get the Shrimp Cakes recipe by Simply Recipes

16 Peppery Garlic Prawns

Simply Recipes
Get the Peppery Garlic Prawns recipe by Simply Recipes

17 Shrimp And Bacon Risotto

How Sweet It Is
Get the Shrimp and Bacon Risotto recipe by How Sweet It Is

18 Garlic Shrimp In Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and Cilantro

Skinny Taste

19 Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich

Simply Recipes
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20 Fresh Corn Chowder With Bacon + Barbecue Shrimp

How Sweet It Is

21 Spicy Beer & Butter Shrimp with Cornbread Panzanella Salad

Half Baked Harvest

22 Shrimp Gumbo With Andouille Sausage

Simply Recipes

23 Sweet Chili Shrimp Stir-Fry

The Clever Carrot
Get the Sweet Chili Shrimp Stir-Fry recipe from The Clever Carrot

24 Thai Firecracker Shrimp

Steamy Kitchen
Get the Thai Firecracker Shrimp recipe from Steamy Kitchen

25 Aloha Teriyaki Shrimp Burgers

Skinny Taste
Get the Aloha Teriyaki Shrimp Burgers recipe from Skinny Taste

26 Shrimp Dip

Simply Recipes
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27 Smoky Paprika Shrimp Skewers

Simply Recipes
Get the Smoky Paprika Shrimp Skewers recipe by Simply Recipes

28 Ancho Chile, Shrimp And Pasta

Simply Recipes
Get the Ancho Chile, Shrimp, and Pasta recipe by Simply Recipes

29 Crispy Shrimp Pizza

How Sweet It Is
Get the Crispy Shrimp Pizza recipe by How Sweet It Is

30 Cioppino

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