Southern Rocklobster

Jasus edwardsii

Other names: Cray, crayfish, Melbourne crayfish, red rocklobster, southern lobster, southern spiny lobster, Tasmanian crayfish.

Family: Palinuridae (spiny lobsters).

Description:

Available wild-caught (though being assessed for aquaculture), these marine crustaceans are found from Geraldton, WA, south to Coffs Harbour, NSW, including around the Tasmanian Coast. They shelter in caves and crevices and under rocks from close inshore to depths of 200m. They are caught mainly off SA in pots, with a small number also caught in ring nets in shallow waters. They look similar to Eastern Rocklobsters, but their shell is rough-textured and orange-red before cooking instead of greeny-black. 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, with some closures in Tasmania, Victoria and SA.

Size and Weight: Commonly 600g-1.2kg and 10.5-13.5cm, but can reach 6kg and 30cm.

Price: High priced.

Relations:

Eastern 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 Southern) 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:

Tails and whole, cooked (chilled and frozen), 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 >