Is Maine lobster the best choice for seafood lovers?
There's no other taste in the world quite like lobster. There's just something special about the meaty, succulent, indulgent taste of freshly caught seafood. Not all types of lobster are created equally, though. The taste, quality, and value of the crustacean depend upon the fishery from which it was obtained.
When you sit down to a meal involving a delicacy like lobster, you want the best quality meat around—that sweet, briny flavor combined with thick cuts of claw and tail meat. Nothing else will do. And while the lobster is plentiful all over the world, there's no reason to settle for second best. That said, is Maine lobster really the best among all other crustaceans?
Is Maine lobster the best? The debate rages on
Everyone has their own individual preference when it comes to seafood, but is there really any room for debate concerning great, high-quality lobster? Is there really a noticeable difference? According to proponents of Maine lobster, the debate has long since been settled. Let's back up for a minute, though.
What comes to mind when you think of lobster dinner? Lobster curry? Lobster fried rice? Boiled lobster? What about lobster rolls? There are a number of lobster-based dishes you can conjure up, but the best options all share one thing deeply embedded in their DNA: meaty cuts of high-quality lobster.
But not every type of lobster is suitable for eating or crafting into a gourmet dish. The taste and quality of the crustacean are intimately tied to the ocean from which it originated. This brings us to the central debate: what's the best type of lobster in the world?
In terms of taste and versatility, Maine lobster is claw and tail above the rest. There's really no debate, and the numbers back it up. According to Seafood Source, Maine's lobster business has been soaring as of late. In 2021, the state banked a record haul of more than 108 million pounds and worth an estimated $724 million, the largest in years.
All this said, nothing puts the quality of Maine lobsters into perspective quite like a side-by-side comparison with the competition.
Seasonal lobster: Hardshell vs. soft shell
Lobsters live a long time. While the lobsters that we eat are generally somewhere around five years old, an adult lobster can live to be 100 years old when given a safe environment with an ample food supply.
Aside from their longevity, lobsters continually grow over the course of their lives. As adults, males typically will molt or shed their shells once a year, and females every two years. They shed their existing shells so that they have room to grow. The shedding of the hard shell occurs in the summer when the lobster moves toward warmer waters.
Related: A Maryland Seafood Chain Brings Maine Lobster to Downtown Seattle
After shedding its hard shell, the lobster is left with a soft shell that will harden again over time. This soft shell has extra space inside, filled with water. It’s at this time when their meat is sweetest and when Maine lobstermen orchestrate their hauls for that perfect, sweet, and succulent lobster meat.
Cold vs. warm water lobster
To paraphrase the famous line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, "would lobster by any other name taste as sweet?" While Maine lobster might be the best-known name in the game, it's not the only one. You can find both cold and warm water lobsters in various waters throughout the world, each with their own notable characteristics.
Cold-water lobster varieties
The temperature of the water plays a crucial role in development, with colder environments typically resulting in larger and more valuable lobsters. In particular, cold water promotes the slow and steady growth of the lobster, leading to sweet and firm meat that's highly sought-after for culinary purposes, such as the famous lobster roll.
The advantage of cold water can be attributed to the fact that lobsters thrive in colder climates, especially in mineral-rich areas of the northern Atlantic. Cold water provides the ideal environment for lobsters to mature and grow at the right pace, which contributes to the development of their desirable taste and texture. There are a few prominent types of cold-water lobsters, including the world-renowned Maine lobster.
Canadian lobsters are a close cousin of the famous Maine lobster. The only real difference is their environment and its effects on the quality of the meat. Canadian lobsters come from water with an even colder average temperature than their New England cousins. That allows them to grow extra-large. The only drawback is that hard-shelled Canadian lobsters have incredibly dense claw meat that tastes less sweet.
French Blue lobsters
French Blue lobsters are named for the natural color of their shells, which is bright blue. When cooked, this type of lobster turns brilliant red, making presentation an important part of the dining experience.
While the name implies lobster caught off the cool Northern shores of France, French Blues also originate from areas around Scotland and Ireland. Not known for their sweetness, this type of lobster is instilled with a strong taste of oceanic brine with each bite.
Finally, we come to the fabled Maine lobster, king of all cold-water crustaceans. According to the Robust Kitchen article cited above, Maine lobster fisheries average more than 100 million pounds of harvested lobster per year, making it a significant part of the global industry, which is expected to reach a volume of 400 thousand tons annually by 2025.
Maine lobster is known for its succulent, sweet, and tender meat, with a distinctive and rich flavor. It is also recognized for its large, meaty claws and outer shell, which can vary in color from greenish-brown to dark blue.
Warm water lobsters
Maine lobster may be the cream of the crop, but that doesn't mean that its warm water cousins aren't without their own merits. While we won't focus in-depth on this variety, it's worth acknowledging some alternatives to the classic cold-water lobsters.
Warm-water lobsters, also called rock lobsters, develop differently than their cold-water counterparts due to their warm water environment. They are smaller and lack claws, instead featuring prominent antennae for navigation. The tail is the only edible part due to their small size, and the taste and texture can vary significantly. Sometimes the tail meat can be tough or mushy, without a consistent middle ground.
Of course, that doesn't stop locals around the world from enjoying lobster dishes sourced directly from their own shores. Prominent warm-water lobster types include:
- South African
- New Zealand
While warm water lobsters have their own unique qualities and are enjoyed by locals in various regions, Maine lobsters remain unrivaled in their size, meatiness, and flavor. Their cold-water environment gives them a distinctive taste and texture that has made them a beloved delicacy around the world. So, if you want to taste the best of the best, Maine lobster is definitely the way to go.
Maine lobster: The best way to experience lobster
The taste and quality of Maine lobster are unrivaled. The cold waters of the New England coastline give Maine's lobster population just the right blend of nutrients and environmental stability to encourage the crustacean to grow and thrive. Their claw and tail meat are thick and abundant, striking the perfect balance of sweetness and ocean brine.
There are dozens of ways to turn a good, fresh lobster into a meal, but if you're looking to enjoy Maine lobster in the most authentic way possible, look no further than the lobster roll. Whether you favor the Maine style, with its creamy meat and a generous layer of mayo, or the Connecticut-style variety tossed in warm butter, a lobster roll is the perfect way to get your own taste of the New England shore. Looking to indulge? Let Mason's Famous Lobster Rolls help. Visit us online to find a location or view our full menu.