The Noway lobster is a very European crustacean! It lives on the shores of the Atlantic, from Scandinavia to North Africa. There is also a small number in the Mediterranean. Some closely related species can be found in the Pacific.
They live in the deep sea, hidden in burrows, but leave their shelter to feed themselves. Like all shellfish, they regularly shed their outer shell. The female carries her eggs, which she lays when they have reached maturity. They incubate for several months, floating in the water, and then the larvae are born, and over time gradually become Norway lobsters.
It takes 2 years for a Norway lobster to become an adult and reach an age for reproduction.
In France they are called langoustines, except in Brittany, where they are called écrevisse de mer; in the United Kingdom they are called langoustines, in Spain they are called camaron and in Italy scampi.
It is rare to find live Norway lobsters for sale outside of fishing ports or their surroundings.
The freshness criteria were set by the EC:
Category E: live Norway lobster.
Category Extra: pale pink or pink to orange-red, with shiny eyes and pink gills.
Category A: The same colors, no black spots. But the eyes are dull and the gills grayish. Loss of characteristic shellfish smell, but no ammonia smell.
Category B: same colors but slightly less vivid, and grayish. Some black spots and dark gray gills, slightly sour smell.
When not sold fresh, whole Norway lobsters are sold frozen, or deep-frozen, with shelled tails.
Scotland is the leading supplier of Norway lobster, followed by Ireland and Denmark. In France, they are caught in the Bay of Biscay and off the coast of Brittany.
Before using, the intestines should be removed. To do this, hold the middle of the tail and gently twist up and down while gently pulling outward.
Depending on how they are going to be cooked, their tails may or may not need to be removed.
Norway lobsters are excellent in a tartare, or poached, fried, or grilled.
However they are cooked, the cooking time should always be very short, 2–3 minutes maximum, otherwise they become chewy.
The heads of Norway lobsters are not used for gravy and sauces, as their flavor is too strong. It is better to use the claws and shells for this.
Norway lobsters are particularly fragile and must be prepared on the day of delivery. Meanwhile, they can be stored in the refrigerator or cold room in their crate with ice.
Like all shellfish, Norway lobsters are high in protein, and particularly low in fat. They contain cholesterol, but it is in their head (which is not normally consumed).
They contain B vitamins and minerals.
There is only one species of Norway lobster, and classification is based on size, specifically on how many make up 1 kg.
In Europe, the sizes are as follows:
Size 1: less than 20 per kg
Size 2: 21–30 per kg
Size 3: 31–40 per kg
Size 4: the smallest ones; more than 41 per kg.
"Royal" Norway lobsters are larger: less than 10 per kg.
Europe imposes a minimum landing size, which varies from 70–85 mm depending on the fishing site. French fishermen have taken this concept even further, imposing a minimum landing size of 90–110 mm.
Norway lobsters are caught through trawling (nets) or using a lobster pot. Norway lobsters caught using the latter method are always larger, with firmer flesh and a stronger flavor.
Imported Norway lobsters are sold all year round. The French lobster-fishing season runs from April through the end of August.