Brown Shrimp From the North Sea

Learn About Nordseekrabben, a Popular German Seafood

a large number of freshly caught and cooked brown shrimp
Nordseekrabben - a Fresh Catch.

Ralf Roletschek / CC by SA 3.0

The brown, or gray shrimp (Crangon crangon), is a small, economically important decapod fished in the North Sea off the coast of Germany. In German, they are called "Nordseekrabben" or "Nordseegarnelen". They are also called "Granat" or "Porre."

Brown shrimp are very tender and low calorie. Four ounces has about 87 calories, 18.6 grams of protein and just 1.44 grams of fat.

These shrimp have 5 pairs of thoracic legs (and more legs on the abdomen) and belong to the same order as lobsters and freshwater crayfish, crabs, and prawns. They do not have claws or pincers, however, and swim rather than walk.

Adult brown shrimp live in deeper waters off the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium. They are also found from the White Sea off of Russia south to the Atlantic side of Morocco. Immature shrimp live in the mudflats during summer months and move to deeper waters during colder months, where the water temperature fluctuates less. They hide from predators by digging themselves into the sand and changing their coloration.

They reach maturity in about one year and are small, 1 to 2 inches long and 40 to 180 pieces per pound—without a head, with the shell. They are considered a delicacy in Germany, where they are often served heaped in a fresh roll with dressing (recipe here), or as a snack to peel while drinking beer.

The shrimp caught in the North Sea is declining, but a great tourist attraction. The boats or trawlers use large drag nets to access the mudflat bottoms (video). They drag for two to three hours, then bring the catch onboard. Many boats allow tourists (see here) or book an old-fashioned mud and catch tour "Krabbenfang" (fourth frame down).

Peeling these shrimp is mostly done by hand, but the shrimp are also sold peeled and frozen in 4-ounce and 8-ounce packages, making them highly accessible.

More About Shrimp

Also Known As: Nordseekrabben, Nordseegarnelen, Porre, Granat, Grey Shrimp, Brown Shrimp