If you have gone to a fine dining restaurant, lobster would be one of the highlights and could be the most expensive thing on the menu. This family of large marine crustaceans is one of the world’s most popular luxury dishes. Lobsters are known for their long bodies with muscular tails, and live in crevices or burrows on the seafloor.
The first of its five pairs of limbs modified as pincers and including the first, three of their five pairs of legs have claws which are usually much larger than the others. The high amount of muscle in the lobster’s tail meat is a great source of protein that could provide up to 28 grams of protein per cup. Aside from the stunning tender meat, lobsters are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are some of the types of lobster that you can find around the globe:
Types of Lobsters
South African Lobster
South African lobster is a type of cold water lobster, which possesses spiny and lacks claws and is a pretty unique species. In the U.S, it is usually available as a frozen tail lobster variety. While South African lobster is a cold water lobster as they live in cold waters, it has been classified as a warm water lobster for its lack of claws and is part of the genus Palinarius like other warm water species.
To prevent overfishing, government regulations are in place just like the other lobster stocks. This is the best thing to do when it comes to the South African lobsters as they tend to grow much slower than the Caribbean lobster. What sets this type of lobster from the other warm water lobsters would be its unique flavor due to their extremely muscular tail.
These lobsters are usually cheaper, but only a limited amount of the South African lobsters can be caught each year. To ensure freshness, wild lobsters are trap caught, and then frozen at sea. When cooked well, South African lobsters will blow your mind. The South African lobster tail can make a few lobster rolls, but make sure that it is frozen when you get one in the future.
Also called New England Lobsters, Maine lobster is one of the cold water lobsters. Many people claimed Maine lobster as the best lobster available not only for its juicy claw meat, but also for their tails. This is one of the reasons why Maine lobster would usually land in restaurants and supermarkets. Maine lobster possesses a sweet briny richness, with an extremely fibrous and firmer tail meat. The typical price for a store-bought Maine lobster would be around $50/lb, but prices will vary depending on location.
There are also two types of Maine lobster – the hard shell lobsters and soft shell lobsters. The hard shell would refer to the length of time since the lobster was last molted and they are usually caught between the seasons of fall and spring. On the other hand, soft shell Maine lobster has molted more recently and its exoskeleton is still in the process of hardening. These types of lobster are usually fished in the summer months, and they are not as durable as the hard shells.
The delicate structure of soft shell lobsters may impede some threats when cooking, but you can boil your soft shell lobster in salt water, as this process will prevent damage to the delicate meat of this American lobster.
Canadian lobster is also of the genus Homarus americanus, which is the exact same species as the Maine lobsters and is a cold water lobster. The only difference is that Canadian lobsters live in much colder water that enables them to gain their own distinction. They are also caught as a soft or hard shell lobster along the East Coast of Canada, depending on the season and timing.
Being valued for its claw meat, Canadian lobster is larger than Maine lobsters, but is less sweeter and also tends to be denser. Because of the dense meat and the thickness of their shells, Canadian lobster may be harder to cook than the other types of lobster. Canadian lobster is ideal for those who are looking for something to try on and avoid financial consequences if the experiment goes wrong.
Florida Spiny Lobster
Florida spiny lobster is a warm water lobster that lacks claws. It may not have that large claws like what cold water lobsters have, Florida spiny lobster compensates for that through its plenty of delicious tail meat. Its meat’s flavor may not be as sweet and delicate as the other types of lobster, Florida spiny lobster’s meat still tastes great and it could pair well with a wide array of dishes, from pasta to soup to omelets to gumbo.
The taste of Florida spiny lobster is described similar to a crawfish, and can be spotted on menus from Key West to Kingston. It is also known as the Caribbean lobsters and can be caught from South Carolina to Brazil. It is available in Florida for around eight months per year as a variety of fresh lobster. The Florida spiny lobster or Caribbean lobsters color varies from olive green to brown before cooking and has yellow spots on the abdomen.
New Zealand Lobsters
Also called as New Zealand rock lobster, the New Zealand lobsters are usually caught and found in the deep waters of the South Pacific coast. They are prized for their beautiful deep scarlet-colored shell and slightly sweet, meaty succulent texture. There are two species of these rock lobsters – the red/spiny rock lobster and the packhorse rock lobster.
Since it is a warm water lobster that has no large claws, the weight is in the tail and the New Zealand rock lobster can weigh between one and ten pounds. New Zealand rock lobster has a sweet, velvety smooth meat and firm white flesh. As the name suggests, this rock lobster is commonly found in the waters surrounding New Zealand and also all around in Australia.
New Zealand rock lobster can be spotted in a rocky area of the coast and these rock lobsters can also crop up from the east coasts of both the North and South Islands to the southwest coast of the South Island. Once they are harvested, New Zealand rock lobster can be sold in different markets of Asia. This rock lobster meat is commonly served as one of the prized seafood dishes for Chinese celebrations.
One of the largest varieties of spiny lobsters, California lobster is also a warm water lobster with no claws. It is also known as California rock lobster and is described as slightly chewy, yet giving that creamy and extremely nutty flavor. It is also one of the spiny lobsters that is usually fished on the California coast from Monterey Bay, CA to Mexico.
Just like the New Zealand rock lobster, California rock lobster is also a favorite lobster meat by Chinese people, as 95% of them are shipped to China. Boiling, drenching with butter, or grilling are some of the best ways to cook the California rock lobster to get that creamy, nutty, sweet and delicate flavor.
European lobster usually have claws as they belong to cold water lobsters. But not all European lobster has claws, and Mediterranean lobster is one of them. Mediterranean lobster from the species of Palinurus elephas is a clawless variety of warm water lobster that is well-known around the globe, but these types of lobster can be usually spotted at the seaside markets in Southern Europe.
Mediterranean lobster isn’t isolated at one place and they are commonly found lurking as far away as the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. This lobster is also classified as vulnerable by the IUCN in 2013, making them harder to be sourced. Fishing restrictions and restocking attempts are some of the recovery efforts to increase the Mediterranean lobster population.
Scalloped Spiny Lobsters
The scalloped spiny lobsters,or Panulirus homarus, are usually found in the waters around India, Asia, and the east of Africa. It is also one of the reef lobsters as these nocturnal species come out at night to feed and hide in reefs and sub-aquatic caves by day. Scalloped spiny lobsters are ideal for aquaculture for a more sustainable solution to cover the huge global demand of these creatures found in sea floor with succulent tail meat.
Live lobster is a celebratory crustacean by the Chinese and they love to eat it raw. This is why some Asian restaurants would often display fresh lobsters in an aquarium and their menu would include lobster sashimi.
Western Rock Lobster
The Western rock lobster, or Panulirus cygnus, is one of the types of lobster from Australia’s four main lobster species. It is usually found at western coast of Australia where it is said to be dominant in that area. It is also called as crayfish and it can weigh as much as 11 pounds, plus it can also live for around 20 years.
Western rock lobster is Australia’s most important single-species lobster variety that gives a creamy and sweet flavor. Its sweet and mild taste is great for any dish. You can also simply boil the lobster to enjoy its tender meat or cut the whole lobster into half, take out the digestive tract then remove the meat from the shell and cut into small pieces. You can fry the chopped lobster meat with olive oil, garlic, and parsley before mixing them with pasta.
Other Types of Lobster
There are few types of lobster that might be uncommon to people. Some of them can be seen as an ornament on aquariums as they are not usually eaten. One of them would be the reef lobsters that are beautiful but tiny and only useful in the aquarium trade. Some varieties of slipper lobsters can be eaten, but most of them are endangered and could be an unavailable lobster worldwide. You might also have heard of the Squat lobsters, which are actually a type of crab that are mainly used as fish bait or sometimes as a food coloring ingredient.
If you want to know what is the most important commercial crustacean in Europe, the answer would be Nephrops norvegicus, that also comes with many names such as the Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, langoustine or scampi. It is a slim, orange-pink lobster which grows up to 25 cm long.
Types of lobster can be categorized as cold water lobsters and warm water lobsters. Cold water lobster is also known as true or clawed lobsters. They are characterized with three prominent sets of claws and fall under the family Nephropidae. Since most people would prefer the claw lobster meat over the lobster tail, clawed lobster are popular when dining out or when shopping at a market as they also have that sweet and briny richness to their flavor profile,
The cold water lobster has been a delicacy for many countries around the world. The known species of cold water lobsters are Maine lobsters, Canadian Lobsters, and French Blue Lobsters.
Warm water lobsters are also called the rock lobsters, spiny lobster, or false lobster as they are the same species as crawfish that have no front claws and do not fall under the family Nephropidae. These lobsters have a large set of antennae that most people would mistake as their front legs. The known varieties of these lobsters are Caribbean Lobsters, California Lobsters, South African Lobsters, Australian Lobsters, New Zealand Lobsters, and Tristan Lobsters.
Most people would love to eat lobster for their sweet and tender meat. They are also found on almost every corner of the globe, from northwest coast to east coast. Though you might want the succulent meat of the lobster, always make sure that you follow the guidelines of fishing this crustaceans. Better yet, just order them at the restaurants near your area.