21: Tropical (Or Spiny Or Rock) Lobster
As the name implies, these crustaceans come from warm waters. The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean are the usual sources of spiny lobster in our part of the world. They are of a different genus from Maine lobster, something most noticeable from their lack of large claws. Langoustes (yet another name, the French one) are covered with spines all around.
Other than that, the similarities are more obvious than the differences. You cook a tropical lobster in much the same way as a Maine lobster, just not quite as long.
Fans of tropical lobsters always mention the tenderness of the meat, which is indeed less chewy than that of cold-water lobsters. They have less fat, however, and therefore a more subtle flavor.
Tropical lobsters used to be very common around New Orleans. You would find them in the casual seafood restaurants, especially at West End. Chinese restaurants used them a lot, too. Now we hardly ever see them in local restaurants, for reasons I’m at a loss to explain.
This is today’s item in a countdown of unusual seafood found on menus around New Orleans. Included are both species from faraway waters, and local fish and shellfish that we don’t find very often in restaurants or markets.