The Straight Dish
Hidden Bay™ Lobster Tails
When most people think of the ultimate delicious meal, lobster is usually the first thing that springs to mind. In today’s ever-evolving and creative foodie universe, there are many new and unique approaches to putting lobster on the plate. As a matter of fact, adding this sweet and tender protein to your menu has endless recipe possibilities and doesn’t have to break the bank: from your own twist on lobster bisque or a meaty lobster roll, to spicy lobster nachos or a hearty lobster pasta, and everything in between.
But which type of lobster tail? Spiny or Canadian lobster? Warm water or cold water? What size lobster? How much lobster? Before you create a fabulous new lobster mac and cheese recipe to add to your summer menu, there are a few things you should know about our spiny crustacean friends.
WARM WATER vs. CANADIAN: THE DIFFERENCES
Hidden Bay™ lobsters are available in two varieties: species from different regions of the world, like Canada, and the Bahamas. Both are crustaceans, but they belong to different lobster species. Canadian lobsters found throughout the northern Atlantic Ocean are cold water specimens, and can be found as far north as Labrador, Canada, with the densest populations off the coast of South Canada and Maine. Canadian lobsters are typically longer and heavier than their spiny, warm water cousins. Warm water varieties include the Caribbean spiny lobster, found in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina down, throughout Bermuda and the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. All Hidden Bay lobsters are 100% net weight, and graded to precise standards. All Hidden Bay lobster varieties are available in hard-shell only.
Canadian lobsters are black or brown with a greenish tint, while warm water lobsters are more colorful. But the most notable difference in appearance between the two is the Canadian lobster’s claws. While both types of lobsters have five sets of legs, Canadian lobsters have large claws as the first set followed by four smaller sets. Warm water lobsters do not have claws, but instead have spiny antennae.
As far as taste goes, Canadian lobster tails have whiter meat, are sweeter in flavor, and are typically more tender and firm because they grow more slowly in their cold water environments. Warm water lobster tails have more meat in them, but have less natural moisture so are not as firm as their cold water counterparts, and not quite as easy to handle. One is truly no better over the other, but merely a matter of taste and preference. Regionally the preferences are obvious, with Canadian being more popular in the North East, and warm water in the Southern regions.
MAXIMIZING ON YOUR YIELD
One thing to consider about choosing lobster: yield can vary greatly by season. An average over the course of the year would be about 20% of the shell-on weight; for example, a 1-pound lobster yields an average of about 3.25 ounces of meat. Summer Maine lobsters have softer shells and yield less – you might get 3 ounces from a 1-pound lobster (It is from this product that most lobster meat is pulled). Winter lobsters have harder shells and yield more – as much as 3.75 ounces for the same size lobster.
A good rule of thumb for serving lobster as the main course: purchase 2 to 2.5 pounds of lobster per person. This will yield 8 to 10 ounces of meat for each serving. For appetizers or salads, 1 to 1.5 ounces per person should do it. For surf and turf dishes pairing lobster tails with a good quality steak, choose 1-pound or more per person.
VERSATILITY ON THE MENU
Hidden Bay lobster tails are highly versatile and profitable! They can be easily incorporated into your menu as both appetizers and center of the plate. Even better, they come in many convenient sizes, making it simple to adapt lobster to your recipe while keeping your food costs in mind.
Get creative with lobster tail meat: appetizer options can range from lobster-stuffed mushroom caps to breaded lobster bites, or even lobster poutine! And, of course, for center-of-the-plate delicacies, there are plenty of applications to use the tender meat from a cold or warm water tail. Why not try a lobster grilled cheese, a lobster thermidor, or a lobster pot pie? Straight up – Take it to the plate and have fun with it!