The mantis shrimp is a marine crustacean that’s not that difficult to find in Asian Cuisine, but in the US, it’s something we rarely see, let alone know about.
With its sweet and nutty flavor, the mantis shrimp compares to the taste of lobster, but it brings its unique twist to the table. This intriguing creature is not only fascinating to observe in its natural habitat but also provides a delightful treat for the taste buds.
This article explores its taste, texture, and the various ways it can be prepared.
How Do Mantis Shrimp Taste?
As you savor your first bite, a sweet and nutty flavor like lobster comes through. But it is distinct in its own way.
However, some might find the taste too mild. But this is where the beauty of mantis shrimp shines. Its subtle flavor profile makes able to take on the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with while maintaining its unique taste.
The mantis shrimp’s meat is tender and succulent, providing a satisfying mouthfeel. It’s not as chewy as some shellfish can be but has just the right amount of bite.
What Does Mantis Shrimp Compare With?
- Lobster: The most common comparison, mantis shrimp shares lobster’s sweet and slightly nutty flavor profile. However, mantis shrimp has a more delicate texture, making it a unique seafood experience.
- Crab: Some people find the taste of mantis shrimp similar to crab, especially when it comes to the sweetness of the meat. But mantis shrimp tends to have a more complex flavor, with a nuttiness that you don’t typically find in crab.
- Shrimp: While they share a name, mantis shrimp and regular shrimp have distinct tastes. Regular shrimp has a milder, less sweet flavor, while mantis shrimp offers a richer, nuttier taste.
- Scallops: The sweetness and tenderness of mantis shrimp meat can also be compared to scallops. However, mantis shrimp has a more pronounced nutty flavor that sets it apart.
- Chicken Lobster: The meat of mantis shrimp is often described as more tender than that of a cooked chicken lobster. The taste is also slightly sweeter, adding another layer to its flavor profile.
What Do Mantis Shrimp Look Like?
Mantis shrimp are not your typical shrimp but a vibrant and fascinating marine creature. Their bodies are elongated, with a hard, segmented exoskeleton that can be a variety of colors, from bright greens and blues to more subdued browns and greys.
One of the most striking features of the mantis shrimp is their eyes, which are large, segmented, and can move independently of each other. These eyes are not just for show. They are among the most advanced in the animal kingdom, capable of seeing a spectrum of colors beyond what humans can perceive.
When it comes to their size, mantis shrimp can vary greatly, ranging from a few inches to over a foot in length, depending on the species.
But regardless of their size, one thing remains consistent: the unique taste experience they provide. So, while their appearance might be a bit intimidating at first, don’t let that deter you from trying this extraordinary seafood delicacy.
How To Eat Mantis Shrimp
Here are a few popular ways to prepare and eat mantis shrimp:
Boiled Mantis Shrimp
Boiling is one of the simplest ways to prepare mantis shrimp. The shrimp are boiled whole, often in salted water or a flavorful broth. This method allows the natural sweetness of the shrimp to shine through. Once cooked, they can be eaten straight out of the shell, often accompanied by a dipping sauce for an added flavor kick.
Mantis Shrimp in Pasta
In Mediterranean cuisines, particularly in Italy, mantis shrimp are often used in pasta dishes. The shrimp are sautéed in olive oil with garlic and other seasonings, then tossed with pasta. The result is a flavorful dish where the sweet and nutty taste of the mantis shrimp complements the savory pasta perfectly.
Mantis Shrimp Sushi
In Japanese Cuisine, mantis shrimp is a popular sushi topping. The shrimp is boiled and then placed on top of a small mound of sushi rice, creating a delightful bite-sized treat. The sweet and nutty flavor of the mantis shrimp pairs beautifully with the slightly vinegared sushi rice, offering a unique twist on traditional sushi.
Grilled Mantis Shrimp
Grilling is another great way to enjoy mantis shrimp. The high heat caramelizes the sugars in the shrimp, enhancing its natural sweetness and adding a smoky flavor. Grilled mantis shrimp can be served with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of garlic butter for a truly mouthwatering dish.
How To Make Mantis Shrimp Taste Good
Enhancing the taste of mantis shrimp is all about complementing its natural flavors while adding elements that elevate the overall dish. Here are a few tips on how to make mantis shrimp taste even better:
Use Fresh Ingredients
The freshness of the mantis shrimp is key to its taste. Fresh mantis shrimp have a sweet, nutty flavor that is truly delightful. Pairing the shrimp with fresh herbs, spices, and other ingredients can enhance this natural flavor.
Mantis shrimp are delicate and can easily become tough and rubbery if overcooked. It’s important to cook them just until they turn opaque, which usually takes only a few minutes. This ensures the shrimp remain tender and succulent.
Pair with Complementary Flavors
The sweet and nutty flavor of mantis shrimp pairs well with a variety of ingredients. Citrus fruits like lemon or lime can add a refreshing tanginess that balances the sweetness of the shrimp. Garlic, butter, and herbs like parsley or cilantro add depth and complexity to the dish.
Serve with the Right Sides
The sides you serve with mantis shrimp can also enhance its taste. Light, fresh sides like a green salad or grilled vegetables can complement the rich flavors of the shrimp. Alternatively, serving the shrimp with a hearty side like pasta or rice can create a satisfying and well-rounded meal.
How To Buy Mantis Shrimp
When buying mantis shrimp, remember a few things to ensure you’re getting the best quality.
- Freshness: Freshness is key when buying any seafood, and mantis shrimp are no exception. Fresh mantis shrimp should have a clean, sea-like smell. Avoid any that smell overly fishy or strong, as this could indicate that they are not fresh.
- Appearance: Look for mantis shrimp with bright, clear eyes and vibrant color. Their shells should be hard and intact, without any cracks or discoloration. The flesh should be firm to the touch.
- Size: Mantis shrimp can vary greatly in size, from a few inches to over a foot in length. The size doesn’t necessarily affect the taste, but larger mantis shrimp will yield more meat.
- Source: Try to buy from reputable seafood suppliers or markets that have a good turnover. This ensures that the seafood is fresh and has been stored properly.
- Other Names: Mantis shrimp are also known as stomatopods. In Italian Cuisine, they are often referred to as “canocchie.”
- Restaurant vs. Market: If you’re not confident in preparing mantis shrimp at home, ordering them at a restaurant can be a great option. Chefs with experience in preparing seafood will know how to bring out the best in mantis shrimp. However, if you’re up for a culinary adventure, buying them at a market and cooking them at home can be a rewarding experience.
Mantis Shrimp FAQs
Can you eat mantis shrimp?
Yes, mantis shrimp are edible and enjoyed in many different cuisines worldwide. They can be boiled, grilled, and even as a topping for sushi.
Does mantis shrimp taste like regular shrimp?
While mantis and regular shrimp share a name, their tastes differ. Mantis shrimp have a richer, nuttier flavor than regular shrimp’s milder taste.
Do Mantis Shrimp Taste Fishy?
Contrary to what you might expect, mantis shrimp do not taste fishy. This is one of the aspects that makes them such a delight to eat.
Do Mantis Shrimp Smell Fishy?
When it comes to smell, fresh mantis shrimp should have a clean, sea-like aroma. It shouldn’t smell fishy or overly strong. If you notice a strong, fishy smell, it’s best to avoid eating it, as this could indicate that the shrimp is not fresh.