The Lobster is a sea crustacean found in all oceans belonging to the Homarus genus. It includes two main species:
- the European lobster (called Brittany lobster in France) — Homarus gammarus
- the American lobster (also called Canadian lobster) — Homarus americanus
Lobsters have 10 walking legs; the front three pairs bear claws, the first of which are larger than the others.
Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in the coastal areas they populate.
Because lobsters usually live on rocky bottoms they are easier to catch by using baited one-way traps. They can also be fished at low tide or by scuba diving but it can then only be by hand.
Since 1998, the minimum fishing size in France is 87mm (length of the cephalothorax –fusion of the head and the thorax), which corresponds to an animal of about 5 years of age. In Canada, the minimum size depends on the fishing area but is usually 81mm. In the US, it is 82mm or a weight of 1 pound (453 grams).
Canada has created a real industry around its lobsters. It is the most exported seafood product of the country. Thanks to measures took more than 20 years ago, in spite of increasing catches, the quantity of lobsters available keeps on improving: limited number of traps per fisherman, fixed fishing periods, reject of all females wearing eggs, minimum sizes, no fishing on Sundays…
As from today no farming method has achieved commercial success (experiences were conducted in France, Spain, Norway and Canada), due mainly to the fact that lobsters eat each other (cannibalism) and the slow growth of the species; these two problems make it difficult to make lobster aquaculture profitable.
The lobster meat is very deemed and considered by some experts as the finest of all crustaceans. For connoisseurs, the two species of lobsters don’t exactly have the same flavor. In France, the prime quality lobsters are found in Brittany and Normandy, the most well-known one being the blue lobster.
Crab catches are estimated to 1.5 million tons per year, making up to 20% of all marine crustaceans caught, farmed and consumed worldwide. However, this figure is probably underestimated, as it doesn’t take into account artisanal and personal fishing. Fishing of Kamtchatka crabs alone represents about 45 000 tons per year.
Like lobsters, most crabs are caught using baited one-way traps.
Crabs have an interesting nutritional value. They offer a good amount of proteins as well as a low fat content. Crabs are also an excellent source of vitamins B12, selenium, phosphor, copper and other nutrients essentials to health care.
Like lobsters, the crab must be cooked alive with steam or a short-broth for about 15mn. Once cooked, crack the legs to retrieve the meat, and break the body’s carapace to get to the flesh. All of it is good!
Cooking a live lobster may seem difficult for inexperienced persons but it isn’t. When buying a live lobster you must make sure it is lively. For that purpose you should ideally get it directly from the ocean or from a Sealife LobsterBar. You will be able to notice the freshness of the crustacean at its black and bright eyes and its good smell. After purchase, cooking must be made as quickly as possible. Never rinse your lobster under fresh water as it will surely kill it.
This delicious sea product is rich in potassium and zinc. This is its tail (which is in fact the abdomen), which contains the most nutrients. The meat is lean and tasty. The lobster can be eaten cooked in the steam, in the water (broth) or on the grill.
Lobsters were already enjoyed in Middle Age and Renaissance, and most probably even earlier on – lobsters represented on mosaics are described in antic Roman texts. In some civilizations, they were considered as aphrodisiac but were never seen as the luxurious food it is today, probably because of their abundance.
Spiny lobsters, also known as langouste or rock lobsters, are especially found in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Although they superficially resemble true lobsters in terms of overall shape and having a hard carapace and exoskeleton, the two groups are not closely related. Spiny lobsters can be easily distinguished from true lobsters by their very long, thick, spiny antennae and by the lack of claws on the first four pairs of walking legs.
Spiny lobsters are found in almost all warm seas, including the Caribbean and the Mediterranean Sea, but are particularly common in Australasia and in South Africa, where they are referred to commonly as crayfish or sea crayfish.
Like true lobsters, spiny lobsters are edible and very prized for the flavor of their meat. They represent an economically significant food source for the fishing areas; they are the biggest food export of the Bahamas, for instance.
Spiny lobsters are fished, kept alive and cooked like true lobsters.
Most crabs are sea crabs, but fresh water and even earth crabs also exist! They all bear 5 pairs of legs, the front one being modified to form a pair of claws.
Crabs are an important food source for humans and therefore generate a particularly developed industry. In the Mediterranean basin, the rock crab (green crab) is often one of the ingredients of traditional recipes such as fish soup.