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Lobster Roe


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#1 Prawncrackers

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 01:24 AM

Foraging in a crate of lobsters at the wholesale market this morning, I found a very lively one packed with roe. The rest seemed a bit dopey so I thought why not and bought that one. It did occur to me at the time though that I've never come across lobster roe before:

Posted Image

So, question is what do I do with it and how edible is it? I've scraped off most of it (you should have seen her struggle!), rinsed and salted it like caviar. I tried a little, it was bland but I'm hoping the flavour will improve by the time I get home from work in approx 9hrs. Can I cook with it or should I just use it as a garnish? Does anyone know whether the flesh of female lobsters are adversly affected by having roe?

#2 HKDave

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 03:56 AM

Lobster roe is totally edible. Usual thing is to cook it (it turns red) and make lobster butter, which is good on, well, everything. Mash 1x cooked roe with about 5x butter.

I don't think it affects the flesh. The eggs are unfertilized; if they were fertilized she would have left them in the water.
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#3 Prawncrackers

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 04:41 AM

That's the thing HKDave, i'm sure this roe is fertilised becauseit is actually little egg like caviar! I thought unfertilised roe is the green viscous roe you get inside of the female lobsters. I've cooked with that stuff before plenty of times and it's delish but i've just never come across actual lobster eggs like this. I'm thinking actually that this female won't have any of the unfertilised roe now that she's spawned. We will see when i crack her open tonight!

#4 Margo

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 04:51 AM

The green stuff inside is tomalley. It's liver-like, and comes in boy and girl lobsters.
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#5 Prawncrackers

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 05:23 AM

The green stuff inside is tomalley. It's liver-like, and comes in boy and girl lobsters.

Right, now I am confused! My understanding of lobster physiology is this:
- The green stuff found inside female lobsters is the unfertilised roe (often called coral). This turns beautiful bright orangey red when cooked, with a waxy texture but nice flavour
- This stuff is not to be found in male lobsters (obviously because eggs come from the female right?)
- The tomalley is the liver/pancreas and can be found in the head of both sexes and is a pale brown colour that does not change colour when cooked. This stuff is truly delicious.

I've only got experience of handling these local homard lobsters and my observations have always followed my understanding above. I've never seen a male lobster with red coral before and the brown stuff never turns bright red. When choosing lobsters I always have this in mind, whether I want more meaty males or corally females. Have mine eyes deceived me all these years?

This time it's different in that I've never actually seen the fertilised eggs on the outside of a female lobster before. I'm thinking actually whether this mother should have been thrown back?

#6 Peter the eater

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 05:43 AM

Foraging in a crate of lobsters at the wholesale market this morning, I found a very lively one packed with roe.  The rest seemed a bit dopey so I thought why not and bought that one.  It did occur to me at the time though that I've never come across lobster roe before:

Posted Image

So, question is what do I do with it and how edible is it?  I've scraped off most of it (you should have seen her struggle!), rinsed and salted it like caviar.  I tried a little, it was bland but I'm hoping the flavour will improve by the time I get home from work in approx 9hrs. Can I cook with it or should I just use it as a garnish?  Does anyone know whether the flesh of female lobsters are adversly affected by having roe?

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That's a female lobster (looks like an H. americanus or H. gammarus) with a healthy amount of fertilized eggs. In Canada it's illegal to harvest a mother-to-be like that one in order to keep the wild population up. Lobster fishermen will only keep females when the eggs are still inside (i.e. not visible).

The females carry thousands of tiny black eggs inside for a year and then outside for another year tucked under the swimmerets on the tail's underside. Those eggs above look pretty big and may have been ready for release as larvae.

When a lobster is cooked, most thing turn pink including the eggs. I find just about everything inside a lobster to be delicious.

Lobsters here are currently being sold with a recommendation not to eat the eggs or the green tomalley because of the possible exposure to PST (paralytic shellfish toxin). Health Canada says there's been no reports of sickness this year but they leave the warning in place just to be safe. I think you have to eat like a dozen a day for a month to get sick. By that point PST wouldn't be my biggest concern because I'd be so fat and broke.

AFIC you'd be dishonouring that lobster's family by not eating all those yummy eggs.
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#7 KennethT

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 09:09 AM

The green stuff inside is tomalley. It's liver-like, and comes in boy and girl lobsters.

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The tomalley is light green in color... if the lobster is a female and has roe inside, the roe will be a very dark green in color, which will turn orangy-red when cooked...

Personally, I like to remove the dark green roe from the females prior to cooking... you can then push this through a fine sieve and mix with crushed ice and use to make a raft for clarifying lobster consomme... using most egg whites will extract flavor from the consomme, but using the lobster eggs does a good job of clarifying, but does not remove the lobster flavor...

#8 budrichard

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 12:42 PM

A lobster like that is also illegal to harvest in Maine and breeders like that have the fin notched so lobsterman know to throw back.-Dick

#9 JohnnyH

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 12:59 PM

Foraging in a crate of lobsters at the wholesale market this morning, I found a very lively one packed with roe.  The rest seemed a bit dopey so I thought why not and bought that one.  It did occur to me at the time though that I've never come across lobster roe before:

Posted Image

So, question is what do I do with it and how edible is it?  I've scraped off most of it (you should have seen her struggle!), rinsed and salted it like caviar.  I tried a little, it was bland but I'm hoping the flavour will improve by the time I get home from work in approx 9hrs. Can I cook with it or should I just use it as a garnish?  Does anyone know whether the flesh of female lobsters are adversly affected by having roe?

View Post

That's a female lobster (looks like an H. americanus or H. gammarus) with a healthy amount of fertilized eggs. In Canada it's illegal to harvest a mother-to-be like that one in order to keep the wild population up. Lobster fishermen will only keep females when the eggs are still inside (i.e. not visible).

The females carry thousands of tiny black eggs inside for a year and then outside for another year tucked under the swimmerets on the tail's underside. Those eggs above look pretty big and may have been ready for release as larvae.

When a lobster is cooked, most thing turn pink including the eggs. I find just about everything inside a lobster to be delicious.

Lobsters here are currently being sold with a recommendation not to eat the eggs or the green tomalley because of the possible exposure to PST (paralytic shellfish toxin). Health Canada says there's been no reports of sickness this year but they leave the warning in place just to be safe. I think you have to eat like a dozen a day for a month to get sick. By that point PST wouldn't be my biggest concern because I'd be so fat and broke.

AFIC you'd be dishonouring that lobster's family by not eating all those yummy eggs.

View Post



I was under the impression that it's illegal in the United States to boat lobsters that come up "berried" -- their tales are supposed to be notched and then they're to be thrown back as breeding stock. Am I wrong?

ETA: Nevermind.

Edited by JohnnyH, 03 October 2008 - 01:01 PM.

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#10 Prawncrackers

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 01:18 PM

As suspected there was no dark green unfertilised roe inside this female lobster as it was all on the outside. Plenty of light greeny brown tomalley though:

Posted Image

The flesh was fine and the actual eggs themselves cooked up quite nicely. They do turn brilliant red and are indistinguishable from tobiko (flying fish roe). Will post a pic of the dish when i get chance on the Dinner thread.

#11 Margo

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 06:16 AM

The green stuff inside is tomalley. It's liver-like, and comes in boy and girl lobsters.

Right, now I am confused! My understanding of lobster physiology is this:
- The green stuff found inside female lobsters is the unfertilised roe (often called coral). This turns beautiful bright orangey red when cooked, with a waxy texture but nice flavour
- This stuff is not to be found in male lobsters (obviously because eggs come from the female right?)
- The tomalley is the liver/pancreas and can be found in the head of both sexes and is a pale brown colour that does not change colour when cooked. This stuff is truly delicious.

I've only got experience of handling these local homard lobsters and my observations have always followed my understanding above. I've never seen a male lobster with red coral before and the brown stuff never turns bright red. When choosing lobsters I always have this in mind, whether I want more meaty males or corally females. Have mine eyes deceived me all these years?

This time it's different in that I've never actually seen the fertilised eggs on the outside of a female lobster before. I'm thinking actually whether this mother should have been thrown back?

View Post


Oh, yup, you're right. Nice picture! I forgot about the darker green roe vs. the lighter tomalley.

Clearly it's been too long since I've enjoyed a lobster!
Margo Thompson
Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,
You're my little potato, they dug you up!
You come from underground!
-Malcolm Dalglish

#12 Sentiamo

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:13 AM

Well this sure is interesting! I have just posted a new topic on scallop roe and now find this post on another roe. And, this is equally intriguing not least because the roe featured in the photo is not at all like the roe we find in our local crayfish ( read..local lobster).

Hmmmmm.

Our ' lobsters' are clean. :smile: Their roe is contained in a sac and not distributed all through the tail like the pictured lobster! It is waxy and firm just as someone above has mentioned, and is very tasty. But the tomalley..oh yes the tomalley!

Sigh.... :rolleyes: I use it as butter on my breadroll which I then cover with slices of just steamed crayfish and some mayo and lemon juice and HEAPS of black pepper.

And Heaven calls.

#13 SnorkelVik

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 09:11 AM

Your picture made me ill. How terrible that someone caught that lobster with all those eggs!!! As others have already chimed in, harvesting lobsters with eggs is a terrible way to manage the lobster population. In 'The Secret Lives of Lobsters' it mentions what others have said above, Maine fisherman will notch a 'V' in the lobster's tail to denote that it's a breeder. This notch will last several shell moltings, and it's illegal to catch a V lobster, even one without eggs. You shouldn't purchase any more lobsters from this dealer.

#14 Country

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 01:38 PM

SnorkelVik is right. I live on the coast of Maine and keeping egg-bearing females will only lead to a decline in the lobster population.

#15 Prawncrackers

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 02:09 PM

You're both right. It's the only time i've ever seen lobster eggs and it was a pure impulse buy. I'm sure this was just a one-off occurrence. It's actually quite difficult to spot the eggs when the tail is curled up normally. It's only when you pick her up, give her shake and uncurls when you actually see the eggs. I was completely astounded.

The eggs themselves are a little bland and though pretty, on balance i wouldn't recommend cooking with them if your conscience isn't completely clear.

#16 Country

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 02:26 PM

Prawn, Don't feel guilty about it. If a lobster like that makes it to market, eat it and the roe, and feel good about it. No point in letting it go to waste. The main thing is, it should have been notched and thrown overboard when it came out of the trap. Never should have been kept and made it to market.

#17 Prawncrackers

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 02:53 PM

Don't worry about me, we loved eating that lobster! I said if your conscience isn't clear!!! :biggrin:

#18 ravelda

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 04:45 AM

It is absolutely 100% legal to catch this type of Lobster in the UK - the fishing of lobster is well policed and the fishermen know the rules. We too have a catch and release programme in the UK where a V is cut into the tail and these lobsters are not allowed to then be re-caught. In addition there is a number of lobster farms in the UK, one of which grows young to be released.

Prawn - you have no probs at all with the supplier, this is totally normal albeit a hassle to remove them! (same with langos)
If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

#19 Prawncrackers

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 12:10 PM

Prawn - you have no probs at all with the supplier, this is totally normal albeit a hassle to remove them!  (same with langos)

Mate, i thought draining them the Cantonese way made them angry but scraping the eggs off this girl was a new level of gnarliness. Thinking back about this, if there was one thing that put me off then it was the mad thrashing tail and bits of egg flying off.

#20 fergal

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 06:05 AM

Hi,

saw this thread and thought I'd ask a question about lobster,

when I cook lobsters and cut them open I get this bright red plasticky substance near the head. It tastes OK.

but what exactly is it?!

thanks

fergal

#21 Peter the eater

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 10:18 AM

Hi,

saw this thread and thought I'd ask a question about lobster,

when I cook lobsters and cut them open I get this bright red plasticky substance near the head. It tastes OK.

but what exactly is it?!

thanks

fergal

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The firm stuff that's a bit crumbly and hot pink when cooked? Most of it's up by the head but tapers down through the tail -- connects the mouth to the anus -- it's the stomach(s).
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack