Celebrating the lovely lobster

As months of the year go, December is definitely one of the better ones. All sorts of good things happen in December. There’s Christmas for one, and New Year’s Eve for another. There’s parties to go to, food to eat, drinks to imbibe, public holidays to kick back and do nothing. And there are lobsters to be had.

Lobster season opened 1 December and runs until midnight on 28 February. While the season is open, it is possible you may remove lobsters from the sea – and eat them.

There are restrictions, however, and if you want to indulge in one of the culinary world’s great delicacies, you will have to work for it.

Restrictions

The catch limits in the Cayman Islands are three lobsters per person per day or six lobsters per boat per day, whichever is less. However, the Department of Environment does urge the public to be sensible about numbers: Only take as much as you can be sure you will eat.

Lobsters with tails shorter than six inches may not be removed from the water. Again if there is any doubt as to whether the lobster is large enough to take, you should not be taking it.

Finally, check the underside of the lobster’s tail. If you can see what appear to be pink berries, the lobster is carrying eggs. Although the Cayman Islands does not have a law that prohibits taking females with eggs, people are urged to leave them and let them reproduce.

If you are going to catch lobster remember that gloves are not permitted. The Spiny Caribbean Lobster is so called for a reason: it has some pretty vicious spines on its carapace, so handling them is tricky. The use of snares, which one loops around the tail, is permitted, and those with spear licences may use one.

Check the Marine Parks map carefully: The taking of any form of marine life is banned in numerous spots around the coast. Copies of the map are available online at www.doe.ky as well as in various tourist publications and in telephone directories. If in doubt, call the DOE to check.

Stuff you may not know about Caribbean Spiny Lobsters

Lobsters are nocturnal. By day they hide under rocks or in holes and only venture out into the open once the sun has gone down.

A lobster’s antennae or ‘feelers’ are principally used to scare off potential predators.

A lobster’s main defence are its spines, although it can also emit a loud “screech”

Lobsters may migrate en masse, in long lines of up to 50 individuals, each one keeping in contact with the lobster ahead by touching it with its antennae.

The reason for these group marches is not know, but may be in response to the onset of autumn storms as they tend to head to deeper waters

Lobsters are not fussy eaters and will consume pretty much anything including dead creatures they stumble upon on the ocean floor

It was recently discovered that spiny lobsters can navigate by detecting the Earth’s magnetic field

Although generally social creatures, healthy lobsters will move away from diseased ones, leaving the poorly to fend for themselves

Pound for pound Caribbean spiny lobsters have more meat than their Maine relatives – who, by the way, are very distant relatives

C

ooking your lobster

Preparing your lobster should be kept as simple as possible as you really don’t want to overwhelm the delicate, sweet flavour of the meat. Lobster can be boiled, steamed, grilled or barbecued. The meat can then be eaten straight from the shell or removed from the shell, flaked and added to salads and pasta sauces.

Killing the lobster can be the hardest part of all. If you are going to boil your lobster, you might want to first place it in the freezer for five to ten minutes. Researchers believe this may be a more humane way of boiling them as the cold from the freezer numbs the lobsters before they are placed in boiling water.

Alternatively, if you are going to grill or barbecue your lobster, you will want to cut it in half lengthways first. The quickest way to do this, and supposedly the least painful for the lobster, is to insert the tip of a chef’s knife between the eyes, and then cut all the way down to the tail.

If grilling or barbecuing, keep basting the flesh with melted butter

and pour a little extra over it once plated, plus a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Fresh, simple and delicious!