Product of the Week – Eastern Rocklobster

Jasus verreauxi

Other names:

Crayfish, green rocklobster, local lobster, packhorse crayfish, Sydney crayfish.

Family:

Palinuridae (spiny lobsters).

Description:

Available wild-caught, these marine crustaceans are found from the NSW-Queensland border to Bass Strait and the north-eastern coast of Tasmania, from close inshore to depths of over 200m, mainly in areas of exposed reef. Their fishery is comparatively small, but valuable given their popularity in the Sydney market. They are caught in baited traps, mainly off NSW. They look similar to Southern Rocklobsters, but their shell is greeny-black before cooking, instead of orange-red, and the tail is smooth. They differ from Tropical and Western Rocklobsters in that their antennae and antennules (between the antennae) are short and the flagella on the antennules aren’t forked. Rocklobsters are mostly active after dark and are carnivorous scavengers, feeding on bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Season:

Available year round.

Size and Weight:

They are the largest Rocklobsters in the world, recorded up to 8kg and over 40cm carapace length, commonly 400g-2.5kg and 10.5-17cm.

Price:

High priced.

Relations:

Southern Rocklobster, Tropical Rocklobster, Western Rocklobster, Champagne Lobster.

To Buy:

Sold whole and as tails. Look for brightly coloured, firm, intact, lustrous shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. If possible buy live, avoid green (raw, dead) Rocklobsters (except for frozen tails) as it’s hard to tell how long they’ve been dead.

To Store:

Live crustaceans should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the crisper (optimum 5°C). Wrap dead Rocklobsters in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 35% of total weight (almost entirely in the tail) and up to 45% in small specimens. Has a sweet rich flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium-firm flesh, which is translucent when raw and white with orange tinges when cooked. Leg meat is often a little sweeter than tail meat. Shells turn red when cooked. The most humane, and easiest, method of killing any crustacean is to chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it becomes insensible (but not long enough to freeze it). Once chilled, it should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into rapidly boiling water. See www.rspca.org.au for more details.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, raw (sashimi). Rocklobsters from cooler waters (such as Eastern) are preferred for cooking. The firm flesh holds together well during most cooking methods. Undercook, rather than overcook, them, as they will continue cooking in the residual heat; overcooked Rocklobster will become tough and leathery. The carapace can be used to flavour stocks, soups and sauces.

Goes well with:

Butter, cayenne, coconut, cream, dill, French tarragon, garlic, lemon, lime, mustard, Pernod, white wine.

Alternatives:

Crabs, Bugs, Prawns, other Rocklobsters.

Imports:

Tropical Rocklobsters, tails and whole, cooked (chilled and frozen), are imported from Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and India. Southern Rocklobsters are imported from New Zealand.

Recipes:

Barbecued Lemongrass Rocklobster with Cucumber & Carrot Salad >
Rocklobster Salad with Radish, Orange & Mint >
Pan-fried Rocklobster with Verjuice >
Rocklobster Thermidor >
Rocklobster & Herb Salad with Asian Dressing >

Post credit | Sydney Fish Market

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    “Very best fish and chips ever”

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  • Best fish & chips we ever had. The Dinner Pack was just huge for two, but you just can’t stop eating! Lovely and crisp chips, and the fish was exceptional. Only draw-back was the very small decking outside, which was too crowded and hard to find a vacant table. Unless of course you take your fish & chips and eat them somewhere else. Everything was as fresh as seafood should be. Straight off the boat! Next time we’ll try the mixed seafood.

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    “Great fish and chips” – Visited March 2017

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