When people think of seafood, any number of dishes can come to mind. What many will commonly picture, though, is a bright, succulent lobster tail. It’s a popular restaurant favorite for a reason.
Lobster is often synonymous with fine dining, given the usual high price point it carries. Talking about lobster, learn how to reheat red lobster biscuits.. Some people wait for special occasions just to splurge on it. If you’ve never had a chance to try lobster, or want to know what you’re getting into when you do, it can be hard to picture what lobster tastes like.
So, the question of the hour is: what does lobster taste like?
A luxurious, meaty seafood, lobster is rich and satisfying. The flavor is similar to crab, but with less of a fishy undertone. There is still a slight oceanic ‘seafood’ taste, but it’s on the sweeter side. It is usually cooked and served with melted butter, which adds a creaminess to the delicious surf and turf staple.
Dishes like lobster thermidor, lobster macaroni and cheese, and lobster bisque take the sweet, rich flavor of lobster and spin it in a new direction.
What Does Lobster Taste Like?
Lobsters are crustaceans with a long body and muscular tail. The lobsters you find in restaurants are usually ones caught somewhere on the eastern coast of the US and Canada. The common depiction of a lobster is one that is bright red, but they can be black, dark blue, or other colors, depending on the type.
The part of the lobster that’s usually eaten is the large, muscle-dense tail. If you’re eating it straight from the shell, the shell can act as a sort of ‘boat’ that keeps the meat together.
Like other popular seafoods, lobster has a slightly saline, oceanic taste to it. Some people have described the taste as being the mixture between a crab and a shrimp. If you’re a regular fan of seafood, you can probably picture that sort of flavor in your head.
When it’s boiled or steamed, there’s a definitive ‘flavor of the sea’ that you’ll pick up in a good lobster tail. There’s a salty, tangy, saline flavor to the tender meat, but one that is fresh and clean on the palette.
Unlike crab, however, there’s a sweetness to lobster. It’s not a sugary taste, but something more akin to the slight sweetness of some lean meats. When lobster is baked, fried, or grilled, the sweetness will develop and become complex and smoky.
Lobsters store protein in their tails and claws, so the meat there will be tender and spongier. The meat is firm, yet nice and smooth to bite into. Your teeth sink into firm meat that is then softer to chew.
Ways To Eat Lobster
The above description is of a lobster tail eaten as it is usually found in restaurants, served without additional preparation or accoutrement. Like any meat, though, there are a lot of ways you can prepare and eat lobster.
Lobster Thermidor is one of the most renowned ways to prepare and eat lobster. It’s a step-heavy dish that requires a lot of steps, preparation, and proper techniques. It is lobster meat that has been removed from the shell, mixed with other ingredients, and then stuffed back into the shell and baked.
It has been around since around the 1890s, and is usually saved for the most special of occasions. It is a French dish, meaning it has a few staples of french cooking. The name “thermidor” comes from the 1891 play of the same title by Victorien Sardou.
Lobster thermidor is extremely decadent thanks to the ingredients the already rich meat is paired with. Gruyère cheese makes the flavor nutty, slightly earthy, and adds a meltiness to the texture. Egg yolks render the dish extra smooth, creamy, and savory. Brandy – usually Cognac – is added to add a dark yet tangy twist to the flavor. Learn what the popular type of cognac Hennessy tastes like?
Sometimes, lobster thermidor is prepared with mustard. This makes it tangy, a little spicy, and herbaceous. American preparations might also include a thickened bearnaise sauce.
A sort of cousin to the elegant lobster thermidor, lobster newberg uses a lot of the same flavors, but in the form of a creamy, soupy dish. It’s as decadent as thermidor, but with a few clever twists that set it apart.
Lobster newberg has a similar year of origin to thermidor, with most stories attributing it to 1800s New York City. It is no less fanciful than the baked thermidor; it’s only made in different terms.
Newberg is made with heavy cream, cognac or sherry, and of course, lobsters. Just like thermidor, it uses egg yolks to create a flavor and texture that is rich, savory, and filling.
Where it differs is the use of cayenne pepper and nutmeg (what does nutmeg tastes like?). Cayenne adds a spicy zip of heat to the sweet lobster, one that it benefits from greatly. It is creamy, a little spicy, and very comforting.
Lobster newberg tastes like a thick saucy soup with the sweetness of lobster undercut with dry alcohol and complex nutmeg. Toast triangles are usually dipped into the sauce, and big chunks of fresh lobster are included for texture.
Bisque refers to any creamy, heavily seasoned soup, typically of french origin. Bisques are usually made with seafood such as lobsters, but can also be made with crab, shrimp, and crayfish. Making bisque is often how fish markets will use imperfect crustaceans that don’t quite make the cut into being sold at market.
This soup can serve as a side dish, appetizer, or even as the main course. The seafood taste of lobster bisque is prevalent, emphasized as it is made with both the shell and meat. Tomatoes and white wine create a delicious acidity to it.
Carrots and other fresh vegetables bring out the fresh, sweet flavors of lobster meat. Some bisques will leave big, chewy chunks of lobster tail meat in the mix, while others do not. In the end, it is a delightfully succulent soup that balances being creamy, acidic, briny, and sweet.
Popular in New England, lobster rolls are usually heaped high with chunks of rich lobster meat in a fluffy, warm bun. Lobster rolls have been around since as early as the 1920s, first taking root in Connecticut. Despite beginning in Connecticut, many associate lobster rolls with the state of Maine.
No matter where you go to get it, anyone who is a fan of the sweet seafood taste of lobster will agree that lobster rolls are delicious.
Lemon juice, salt, and black pepper add their respective flavors to this hearty meal. Lettuce or other greens might act as supporting cast to the creamy lobster, adding a bit of freshness and crunch.
The meat in a lobster roll is typically served cold, which makes it perfect for beachside stalls and carts for a quick bite. The lobster chunks specifically come from the animal’s knuckles, claws, and tail. There’s usually not much seasoning besides the pepper, salt, and lemon juice. That’s not a bad thing, though. Lemon juice brings out the freshness of the seafood, and a bit of pepper is just the right kick.
Many will disagree as to whether the creamy element of lobster rolls should come from butter or mayonnaise. It’s a regional difference, and one that everyone claims is their own ‘right way. Regardless on if you use mayo, butter, or both, the important thing is that lobster rolls should be comprised of creamy, chewy, hunks of chilled lobster meat.
Lobster Mac And Cheese
It seems that a lot of the ways to prepare lobster involve bringing out a rich, creamy quality to it. It’s not many seafoods that can boast that they taste good with cheese, but that’s a badge lobster can happily sport.
Lobster macaroni and cheese combines the familiar, comforting flavors of macaroni and cheese, with the sweet and salty flavor of lobster. This isn’t some blue-box brand of macaroni, either; with as expensive as lobster is, you can expect that the mac and cheese it’s in is equally extravagant.
The macaroni and cheese is hearty, creamy, and gooey. It will have a rich, cheesy taste, usually with whatever sharp, nutty, or earthy flavors the cheeses used to make it have brought to the equation.
The lobster itself is usually presented in chunks, bringing a chewiness to the gooey texture of macaroni. The sweet and salty tastes will pair excellently with the warm, savory notes in the pasta. A briny, ocean-like taste can also be present if the shell was used in cooking, either in making a stock or as the vessel for the meal.
Other components like the type of pasta used, other flavor additions like truffle oil (In case you have never tasted truffle, see how truffles taste) or spinach, or a coating of breadcrumbs can also change the landscape of lobster mac and cheese.
Like a lot of other seafood, lobster can be eaten raw. This is a much rarer preparation, though, and one you’re only likely to find at high end places. Because of that, even those who have eaten lobster cooked before might not know what raw lobster tastes like.
Raw lobster is light and toothsome. It has a sort of snappy texture, and not much of an odor. The meat has less of the richness of cooked lobster, and is more fresh, clean, and saline. Think of other raw, white fish, like mackerel or trout. The flavor is a bit briny.
When eating raw lobster, it needs to be prepared as fresh as possible. This is to keep the muscles and tissues from tensing up and getting too tough.
Why Is Lobster So Expensive?
There’s no real dodging the hefty pricetag of lobster. It’s not entirely accessible to everyone who wants to try it, leaving many to only wonder what lobster tastes like. When you buy lobster for the whole family, expect to splurge.
A little known fact is that lobster actually used to be a meal for the lower economic classes. It was considered food for the poor, something that has definitely changed. Lobster used to be so plentiful that it would wash up on the shore, leaving people with more than they knew what to do with.
Lobster caught on with everyone, though, once it was realized how delicious it was. Demand for lobster grew, but the lobster population couldn’t keep up. Lobsters take a while to mature, usually seven years or so before they’ve even reached the minimum weight to be sold at market. That’s to say nothing for those fisheries that are looking for large, beefier specimens.
Because of the high demand but low supply, prices for lobster grew. It went from a food for the poor to one for the wealthier members of society.
Part of the cost of lobster in modern times also stems from the technologies and techniques used to farm, harvest, and store lobster. The further away from a coast you are, the more you can expect to pay for fresh lobster. It needed to be shipped in a way that would keep it fresh on the way to your dinner table.
In short, over-harvesting, the lobster life cycle, and food technology advances have made it so that lobster soared in price.
Lobster is a delicacy, one that most people save for their birthdays or major holidays to enjoy. It’s on the expensive side, but it’s completely worth it once you can bite into that firm, tender, sweet crustacean.
What does lobster taste like? It tastes something like if you mixed the flavor of a crab and a shrimp together. It has a definite ocean taste to it, with a fresh saltiness that you can only find in seafood. The meat is notably sweet, unlike crab, and is usually enhanced by butter.
Lobster thermidor, lobster bisque, and lobster rolls are some of the other ways lobster is enjoyed today. They usually add a creamy, savory element to the meat, like cheeses, cream sauces, or a fat like mayonnaise or butter.