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Shrimp question

In my many years of peeling, deveining and cooking shrimp, I've never seen what I saw tonight: what is it?

Mixed in with the black intestinal goop was a whitish, firm substance that almost looked like tiny styrofoam balls-- but it was clearly part of the shrimp. Only a couple of the shrimp had this. One had a little bit, and the other a fair amount, running along the whole vein canal


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  1. Farm raised shrimp? From India or Indonesia or Thailand or somewhere like that? Who knows what they feed those things. Nobody likes to talk about it, but farm raised shrimp do not come from the most pristine of places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: la2tokyo

      In India at least, Prawn Feed

    2. This was in raw shrimp? Sounds like immature eggs/roe. Cook it up and if it turns red then its roe. (And it's good.)

      5 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        I've seen that in my shrimp before as well. I've always assumed it was the beginning of the egg sack as well (though I really am not sure of this). It won't turn red when it is cooked, though I think if the shrimp were still alive it would eventually turn pink/red once the eggs become more mature.

        1. re: JMF

          I was thinking about that, except the original poster said that these balls are on the back.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            No, the OP said "Mixed in with the black intestinal goop"

            1. re: chefj

              Yeah, but the intestine track is on the back. The nerve is on the bottom (belly).


              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                In the back as opposed to on the back. Where the Eggs are formed, when mature they are extruded on to the Belly

        2. I've seen it in the shrimp I get here on the NC coast. Not often, but I definitely know what you're describing. Don't know what it is either, but I'm confident it's not any type of roe or fish eggs. Guess I was always afraid to ask what it was. Didn't really want to know. I'll ask my fishmonger next time I see him and report back....

          1 Reply
          1. re: Phoebe

            It is amazing that you people have confirmed seeing these. I have never seen them.

          2. My first thought too was eggs. But my second thought was maybe the shrimps swam up to the surface and munched on a piece of stray styrofoam buoy. I do tend to suffer from an over active imagination though.

            2 Replies
            1. re: miss_belle

              What I've seen is maybe different from what the OP was describing in terms of texture. The white stuff I've found has definitely been "biological" in nature.

              And while I like the idea - I'd be surprised if shrimps' mouths are large enough to actually ingest styrofoam but maybe.

              1. re: thimes

                Maybe I should have used the word nibble. It was just a thought.:-)

            2. Next time when you remove them put them it some water. If they float the shrimp has been eating Styrofoam. Not that uncommon as the Styrafoam absorbs 'flavors' and the poor shrimp see a piece of the stuff the size of a Beetle and think they've reached food nirvana. God knows there's enough of it floating all over the oceans.

              1. I once had shrimp with white spots on the shell but never this. I'm interested to find out if anyone knows what it is.

                1. Farmed shrimp can be fed using small round pellets.

                  Maybe that's what it is ...

                  Did you eat the shrimp?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    OP here... It definitely wasn't styrofoam-- that was just an analogy I used to describe the appearance of the stuff. As Thimes says above-- it was definitely biological in nature. I did clean and eat them, and they were just fine. There was also a lot more of it than I'd expect to see were it immature roe. Still a mystery!

                    1. re: newhound

                      I did see some mentions of Tumors and Growths in Shrimp Fished from near the Deep Water Horizon Site but they seemed to be on the Heads not in the Shrimp its self.

                      1. re: newhound

                        i wonder if it was a form of shrimp parasite?

                    2. Mystery solved!!!

                      JMZ... You were right! I spoke to my fishmonger yesterday and told him about this discussion. They ARE fish eggs. He said he sees it more in the "white" shrimp he gets from Georgia in the early spring, before the shrimp can be harvested here locally. But, it can found in all varieties and all countries of origin. He laughed when I told him I was always afraid to ask... for fear of what it actually was! ;~)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Phoebe

                        I'm glad you posted this topic. I unwrapped some wild shrimp last week and discovered some eggs myself which at first were off-putting until I remembered this thread.