Lobsters are large, deep water crustaceans with elongated, robust body. Their uniquely firm, strong flavored and tasty meat is highly valued by chefs worldwide.
Scientific name: Homarus americanus (American lobster), and Homarus Vulgaris (European lobster).
|Giant American lobster (H. americanus).|
Lobster lives in the cold, deep water of the Atlantic; preferably inhabiting ocean floors. It is essentially a nocturnal prey as it explores the ocean bottom in quest of food; mainly after sundown. In shallow waters, lobsters dwell in burrows during the day, however moving about at night, similar to other large crustaceans like crayfish and crabs.
Lobster scavenges on fish, alive or dead, almost all kind of invertebrate animals that inhabit the ocean bottom and small quantities of algae and sea vegetables.
Lobsters are one of the largest crustaceans; many times bigger than crayfish, shrimps. They feature heavily spined, cylindrical body with long tail. They differ from crayfish (spiny lobsters) by having large, well-developed claws on the first pair of legs as in crabs. Abdomen is smoother, having six somites.
They come in many colors depending on different subspecies, ranging from olive green to red.
The American lobster (H. americanus) is found on the eastern coast of North America from coast of Maine to Florida.
Lobster, being a crustacean, is low in calories. 100g of its tail meat holds just 112 calories. Its white meat is low in fat; just 1.51g per 3 oz (100 g).
Their lean, non-oily white meat is an impressive source of protein. 100 g of lobster meat holds 20.6 g/100g (37% of RDI) of protein that is complete in all essential amino acids in a healthy proportions.
Research studies suggest that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and high in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
American Heart Association recommends consumption of seafood, including crustaceans, to fulfil requirements of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.
Unlike some oily fish like mackerel, lobster meat contains very small amounts of vitamin-A, but moderate concentrations of long chain omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA).
It composes just 17 IU/100g of vitamin-A and a total- 0.407 g of omega-3 fatty-acids. Vitamin-A and omega-3's are essential for healthy mucosa and skin.
Lobster essentially preys on small fish mollusk, insects and zooplankton which are the finest sources of B-complex vitamins. Lobster meat is good source of folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Invertebrates, like Lobster, are at the bottom of the food chain and concentrate very small amounts of heavy metals like mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of a variety of seafood lower in mercury a week.
Lobsters are very rich source of minerals including phosphorus (34% RDI), iron (15% RDI), zinc (51.5% RDI), selenium, iodine, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.51 g||7.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.265 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.034 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.108 g||--|
Fresh Lobsters available year-round in the Eastern coast of US. Always choose a live lobster in the markets. It can live 3-5 days away from its natural habitat if it is placed in a cold, saltwater fish tank. When grasped by the sides, it should curl its tail abruptly beneath its body. It should have black, shiny eyes, firm meat and a pleasant smell.
At home, lobsters must be kept, preferably, in cold seawater below 40 F. For short duration, however, they may be kept covered in damp and cool cloth while out of the water.
Lobster is also bought frozen or canned in many offshore markets. After buying, avoid keeping them at room temperature. Cook immediately or cover with a damp cloth and place in the fridge, briefly.
In the deep freezer, the whole lobster cooked or cooled, can also be placed in a sealed, airtight freezer bag.
Lobsters are one of the most sought after seafood for their lean, firm and delicious white/pink tinged meat. The edible parts are the meat of the tail, the legs, the claws, and sometimes liver. The white and pink-tinged meat of lobster is lean, firm, delicate and very tasty.
Chefs prefer to cook frozen, numb lobsters instead of live ones. The meat tends to become tough and chewy because of stiffening of muscles (rigor mortis) if cooked alive. Live lobster is placed in the deep freezer for 1 hour, which renders them unconsciousness.
They can be boiled, baked, girdled, grilled…etc. Use a 500-600g whole lobster per person. The yield is approximately 40%.
Once cooked, lobsters turn into maroon, irrespective of their original color.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Maine lobster dinner. Photo credit: Renée Johnson.|
At lobster restaurants, a set of lobster-crackers and a long, thin tool for pulling meat from inaccessible areas are suggested as basics. Eating a lobster can get messy, and most restaurants offer a lobster bib.
lobster meat and corn chowder is a relishing appetizer.
Serve Boston style boiled lobster with corncob, boiled potatoes and sauce.
Baked or boiled; it is greatly enjoyed with garlic or lemon butter, with mayonnaise or plain.
It is eaten cooked, hot or cold in salads and sandwiches.
Lobster is prepared as a bisque, soufflée or in mousse and can be grateened.
Lobster thermidor (a French dish consisting of a creamy mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, stuffed into a lobster shell), lobster a l'americaine and lobster newwburg are classic lobster dishes.
The shell can be used to make fish stock and to flavor bisques, stews, and sauces.
Allergy to crustaceans may appear in 1% of the population and is more common in teenage and adult life than very early childhood.
Many allergic reactions to seafood are mild and cause hives (urticaria), tingling of the throat and mouth, swelling (angioedema) and/or gut reactions (vomiting, diarrhea). (Medical disclaimer).
<<-Also read- Crawfish nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.