Lobsters As Australians Know Them Are Not Real Lobsters

Lobster and Clambake
Lobster and Clambake
Michael-john Wolfe via Getty Images

If you're a crustacean fan, you might want to be sitting down.

Rock Lobsters, the kind we eat here in Australia, are not lobsters.

"Atlantic lobsters (often called Maine lobsters or American lobsters) are found on the cold Atlantic coast of North America, and, like their close cousin the European lobster (often called Breton lobster or Brittany lobster) have a conspicuous pair of claws that contain a lot of very lovely meat," Urban Purveyor Group Culinary Director Martin Heierling told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The Rock lobster that we’re familiar with in Australia is not a ‘true’ lobster because it doesn’t have those large claws and most of its meat is in the tail. Rock lobsters and Atlantic lobsters are not closely related. While the meat of both lobsters is interchangeable in most recipes, the colder waters of the Atlantic results in a silkier, sweeter flesh that is usually more tender."

Rock lobsters, or spiny lobsters, are also often called sea crayfish (unlike the ‘true’ freshwater crayfish), crays, or langoustines.

And Heierling would know. He's kind of a big deal in the culinary world and is hosting a Atlantic lobster brunch at Sydney's Ananas Bar & Brasserie on Sunday.

Ananas Bar & Brasserie Atlantic lobster brunch

"Don’t get me wrong, I still really like Rock lobsters -- the meat is lovely but the warmer water that it grows in results in slighter tougher flesh that can sometimes be a little stringy," Heierling said.

For those adventurous enough to cook rock lobster at home Heierling advises to not overthink it.

"I prefer to keep my lobster preparation rather simple and that’s my advice for people cooking Rock lobster at home."

"I love steamed lobster. You simply steam it whole for approximately 10 minutes and then chuck it in ice cold water until it’s completely chilled through. I then split the lobster in half, clean it and release the tail meat from each half of the shell. I like to cut the tail meat into bite-sized pieces, then pop them back into the shell for presentation. Serve with some cocktail sauce on the side."

It’s important to cook the lobster all the way through for chilled lobster cocktail, so it is crunchy and firm to the bite.

"Pre-cutting the meat allows me to control the muscle fibre by cutting it into nice sized pieces that are not chewy."

"Alternatively, I really enjoy steamed lobster, prepared and served in the way I’ve just described, but with drawn (melted) butter for richness and sweetness. Delicious!"