Ghost shrimp are a popular freshwater shrimp used often in home aquariums. They get their name from their pale, translucent appearance that makes them look like “ghosts”. While frequently kept as pets, some people wonder if they are also edible. So, do ghost shrimp taste good? Let’s take a closer look.
Quick Answer: Can You Eat Ghost Shrimp?
Yes, ghost shrimp are edible. They have a mild, sweet flavor and tender texture similar to other small shrimp. Their taste and texture make them good for eating raw, boiled, fried, or used in seafood dishes. However, their tiny size means you need a lot of ghost shrimp to make a full meal.
What Do Ghost Shrimp Taste Like?
Ghost shrimp have a mild, sweet taste and a soft texture. Their flesh is tender yet slightly firm when cooked. The flavor is not overly “fishy” or briny. Instead, it is more mild, clean, and somewhat sweet.
The taste and texture of ghost shrimp is similar to other small, freshwater shrimp varieties like grass shrimp or banana shrimp. They resemble the flavor of saltwater bay shrimp or pink shrimp, just not as pronounced. Their mild taste makes them versatile to integrate into many dishes.
Flavors Ghost Shrimp Pair Well With
Since ghost shrimp have a mild, slightly sweet flavor profile, they pair well with both savory and sweet ingredients:
- Savory flavors like garlic, onion, butter, herbs, citrus
- Sweet flavors like fruits, honey, glazes, coconut, chili sauce
- Rich, umami flavors like soy sauce, sesame oil, mushroom
Ghost shrimp won’t overpower other ingredients, so they work well in complex seafood dishes, soups, salads, appetizers, and more.
Ghost Shrimp Texture
Ghost shrimp have a soft, delicate texture. When cooked, their flesh becomes opaque and tender, with a slightly firm bite. They have a similar mouthfeel as bay shrimp or rock shrimp.
Here are some details on the texture of ghost shrimp based on cooking method:
- Raw – Very tender with a jelly-like crunch
- Boiled – Firm yet tender, holds its shape well
- Sautéed – Soft and juicy
- Fried – Crispy exterior with tender interior
- Dried – Chewy, with more dense and rubbery texture
Their versatile texture makes them suitable for many cooking applications. The delicate flesh can be eaten raw in some dishes or holds up well to frying, sautéing, boiling, and more.
How Much Meat Do Ghost Shrimp Have?
One downside of ghost shrimp is their small size. Each individual shrimp doesn’t yield much meat. The edible part of a ghost shrimp is typically around 1/2 inch long.
|1/2 inch long
|3 inches long
|8-12 inches long
So you need a lot of individual ghost shrimp to make up a full portion. Expect to need:
- 8-12 ghost shrimp per serving
- About 1 lb of ghost shrimp to make 2 full servings
The tiny size can make it tedious to peel and devein each shrimp. Keep this in mind when deciding whether the mild flavor is worth the time and effort.
How to Cook Ghost Shrimp
Ghost shrimp can be prepared a few different ways. Their versatility makes them suitable for many dishes:
Ghost shrimp have a soft texture that works well raw. Simply rinse, pat dry, and they are ready to eat.
Try them in:
- Shrimp cocktail
Boiling is a quick and easy cooking method that takes only 2-3 minutes. To boil:
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add shrimp and boil for 2-3 minutes, just until pink and opaque.
- Drain shrimp and rinse with cold water.
Boiled ghost shrimp work nicely:
- On their own as a main or side dish
- In shrimp salads or tacos
- Added to soups, stir fries, and pasta dishes
Sautéing cooks the shrimp quickly while adding delicious flavor. Try this simple recipe:
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 lb peeled ghost shrimp and sauté for 2-3 minutes until just pink.
- Season with salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley.
Sautéed shrimp pair well with:
- Rice or pasta
- Salads or tacos
- Seafood stews or stir fries
Frying ghost shrimp creates a crispy exterior and juicy interior. Follow this easy frying method:
- Heat 1⁄2 inch oil in a pan to 375°F.
- Dredge shrimp in flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs.
- Fry shrimp for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
- Season with salt and serve hot.
Crispy fried shrimp make tasty:
- Main dishes
Do Ghost Shrimp Need to Be Deveined?
Ghost shrimp do contain a digestive vein that runs along their back. It’s up to personal preference whether to devein them or not.
Some people choose to leave the veins in place because it’s so difficult to remove them from the tiny shrimp. Deveining doesn’t make a major impact on the flavor.
However, if you want to devein your ghost shrimp, here is the process:
- Use a paring knife to slice along the back of the shrimp.
- Use the tip of the knife to lift out the thin digestive vein.
- Rinse out any remains under cold water.
Are Ghost Shrimp Sustainable?
Ghost shrimp are a sustainable seafood choice. Here are some reasons why:
- They are not overfished and abundant in the wild.
- Farmed ghost shrimp use closed, recirculating systems.
- They are low on the food chain so don’t accumulate toxins.
- Farming has minimal environmental impact.
Check for independent certification like the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) to ensure your ghost shrimp come from a responsible source.
Where to Buy Ghost Shrimp
You can find live or frozen ghost shrimp at some grocery stores and specialty seafood markets. Here are a few places to buy them:
- Asian food markets – often have live ghost shrimp
- Pet stores – sell ghost shrimp as feeder fish
- Online seafood retailers
- Direct from ghost shrimp farms
Look for plump, healthy shrimp without signs of spotting, clouding, or fungus. It’s best to cook live shrimp within a couple days of purchase.
Ghost Shrimp Recipes
Here are a few tasty ways to eat ghost shrimp:
The soft tender texture of raw ghost shrimp makes for excellent ceviche. Marinate cooked shrimp in citrus juice and toss with vegetables, herbs, and spices for a refreshing appetizer or light meal.
Ghost shrimp pair deliciously with traditional taco flavors like lime, cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce. Quickly sauté or fry the shrimp and wrap in warm corn tortillas for an easy, flavorful taco filling.
Shrimp Fried Rice
Stir small shrimp into fried rice for added protein and texture. The mild flavor won’t compete with other ingredients like peas, carrots, eggs, and soy sauce.
Shrimp Quinoa Salad
Toss cooked shrimp with quinoa, chopped vegetables, olive oil, and lemon juice for a healthy, protein-packed salad.
Small shrimp work nicely in soups and won’t overwhelm the broth flavor. Try them in seafood stew, miso soup, tom yum soup, or gumbo.
Ghost shrimp have a pleasantly mild, slightly sweet taste with a tender yet firm texture. Their flavor is versatile for many savory and sweet preparations from ceviche to fried rice. While tiny, ghost shrimp offer a sustainable and delicious seafood choice.
Boiling, sautéing, or frying are quick and easy ways to prepare them. Just be sure to have ample shrimp on hand for a full portion. With their delicate flavor and texture, ghost shrimp can be an enjoyable addition to all kinds of seafood fare.