Species Groups

Learn about the following species groups (including their most common members, as well as purchasing, storage and cooking information), or select a specific species from the species list on the right.

More Species Groups 

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Eastern Rocklobster
Jasus verreauxi
 
Southern Rocklobster
Jasus edwardsii
 
Tropical Rocklobster
Panulirus ornatus (Ornate Rocklobster)
Other Panulirus species except P.cygnus
 
Western Rocklobster
Panulirus cygnus
 
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Tropical Rocklobster

Panulirus ornatus (Ornate Rocklobster)
Other Panulirus species except P.cygnus

Other names:

Coral crayfish, doublespine rocklobster, green crayfish, ornate rocklobster, painted crayfish, rock crayfish, scalloped lobster, tropical spinylobster.

Family:

Palinuridae (spiny lobsters).

Description:

Available wild-caught, these marine crustaceans have the widest distribution of all Australian Rocklobsters, found from Margaret River, WA, around the northern coast of Australia down to the Central Coast of NSW, usually in shallow water (less than 20m) on rock and coral reefs, although they can be found at over 100m. They are mainly caught in Torres Strait, by spear or hand (as they rarely enter pots), with the fishery jointly managed by Australia and Papua New Guinea. Their body colour varies, but is often brightly patterned (especially on legs), their antennae are extremely long and the flagella on the long antennules between the antennae are also long and forked. Ornate Rocklobsters are the main commercial Tropical Rocklobster and the largest, they are often found on sand or mud. Rocklobsters are mostly active after dark and are carnivorous scavengers, feeding on bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Season:

Mainly available from March to October.

Size and Weight:

Commonly 350g-1.5kg and 7.5-11cm.

Price:

High priced.

Relations:

Eastern Rocklobster, Southern 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 lined with damp paper, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in a cool part of the house for up to 2 days, keeping the lining and covering damp. 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). Tropical Rocklobsters are considered the best Rocklobsters for sashimi. 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 Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and India.

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 >