Market Name: Rock lobster
Scientific Name: Panulirus spp.; Jasus spp
Common Name: Spiny lobster, red spiny lobster, warmwater lobster, coldwater lobster
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Firm

Spiny lobsters lack the large front claws of the American lobster and are prized instead for their tail meat, which accounts for 33 percent of the body weight. Some 30 species of spiny lobster are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are marketed in the United States as either warmwater or coldwater tails, depending upon where they were cap tured. Brazil and the Caribbean are the main sources for warmwater tails; Australia, New Zealand and South Africa supply coldwater tails. Panulirus and Jasus species are the most valuable lobsters commercially. The Caribbean lobster, P. argus, is the main warmwater tail on the U.S. market, and P. cygnus from Australia is the main coldwater species. Rock lobsters average under 5 pounds; translated into tails, the range is 5 to 22 ounces, with most product under 8 ounces. The lobsters are captured mainly in baited traps but are also caught in trawls or by divers.

Product Profile:
Coldwater tails tend to be more tender and succulent than warmwater, and they shrink less during cooking. Tail meat is firm, mild and sweet. Raw tail meat is nearly translucent, with a pink, cream or whitish-gray tint, depending on the animal’s diet. Cooked tail meat should be firm and snowy white with red tinges but no dark spots. Watch for overglazing. It’s limited mainly to warmwater tails, as coldwater producers usually sell their product dry, wrapped with plastic wrap. Pacific Ocean spiny lobsters sport greenish/orange shells; those from the Atlantic are reddish brown. The shell is rougher on a coldwater lobster.

You Should Know:
If cooked tail meat is gray, the lobster was probably dead when it was processed. Also check that the sand vein has been flushed; no black spots should appear. If they do, the tail may have a strong ammonia taste.

Cooking Tips:
Broil tails and serve with melted butter and lemon wedges, or combine with a steak for Surf and Turf. Baked is good, too, but add some water or wine to the pan to prevent drying. If you want to remove the meat from the tails, make sure you split them ahead of time. Use a pair of scissors to cut lengthwise along the underside of the shell; otherwise the meat will be very difficult to remove.

Cooking Methods: Bake,Boil,Broil,Grill,Steam

Substitutions: American lobster

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Whole (blanched or fully cooked), Split, Tails, Meat

Global Supply: