Everything You Need To Know About Lobster

Lobster is a tasty shellfish that everyone now knows to be a bit pricey. The gourmet dish is a luxury item that many eat on special occasions, but they were once known as the poor man's protein, according to Business Insider. It was once a prisoner's go-to dinner.

For a while lobsters were called the "cockroaches of the sea," as there was an abundance of them — they made it easy for anyone to get the protein needed to survive, says Spoon University. Who would have thought they'd turn into a rich man's meal? Nowadays, even a small, simple lobster roll can set you back a surprising amount.

In the mid-1800s however, the cockroach of the sea went hand-in-hand with the new technology that would allow for canned goodies. Once canned items began to hit the shelves of grocery stores, canned lobster became one of the most popular products (via Spoon University).

What is lobster?

Lobsters are a shellfish, not fish, and have become a multi-billion dollar industry. The lobsters that you often see on the big plates between melted butter and lemon wedges are usually American lobster, also known as Homarus americanus, or European lobster, also known as Homarus gammaus, according to National Geographic.

Lobsters are cold-water crustaceans that live in the northern Atlantic Ocean, but clawless lobsters live in the tropical seas. They have 10 legs and are closely related to other popular and expensive dishes like shrimp and crab. But since they are crustaceans, that means they are also a part of the krill and barnacle family, according to Woodman's Of Essex

There are actually 80-90 species of lobsters, far more than the typical ones you see at many restaurants, but only true lobsters have claws, says Nayturr. What you may not know is that lobsters can live to be about 50 years old, so who's to say your Friday night meal isn't older than you?

Why is it so expensive?

Nowadays, lobster is an expensive dish that not everyone can afford to eat, unlike in days past. Even Vikings were eating lobster regularly (via Business Insider). As technology advanced and demand increased, by World War II, lobster was no longer a poor man's food.

Since lobsters are "completely wild fishery" it can be difficult to harvest them, as there are no lobster farms, according to Mel Magazine. They can also take several years to grow to market size, which is about three-and-a-half inches and no bigger than five inches. For these reasons, lobsters are really only fished by lobstermen. 

Everyone who works along the way to get lobsters into restaurants has to be paid, and losses have to be accounted for. The process of getting lobsters to places all over the world only drives prices up further, says Business Insider. As lobster continues to stay a delicacy for the rich, prices won't go down any time soon.

How to cook lobster

There are a few different ways to cook lobster, whether baked, boiled, or steamed, according to Simply Recipes.

If you want to boil your lobster, the bigger the pot, the more lobster you can cook. A 16-quart pot can hold up to three lobsters, whereas an eight-quart pot can only hold one. You simply bring the water to a boil and make sure it is well salted. Depending on size, your lobster will cook for about 10 to 20 minutes, maybe longer. A safe rule would be about 10 minutes for each pound (via Simply Recipes). Lobster turns bright red right before they are completely cooked, so be sure to watch the timer along with the color. Once done, be sure to have your nutcracker to crack the bad boy open and get to dipping.

If you are going for a fancy lobster-tail-only dish, baking is the most common method. Tasty says that to start off, you'll need to cut along the top, right down the middle, to open up the shell. Don't get through the end of the tail. Once cut, separate the meat and lift it up to lay on top of the shell. Place the tails on a baking sheet and season with whatever you choose. The Tasty's recipe calls for butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, lemon juice, and parsley. (Can't go wrong with that combo.) Brush the seasoning onto the meat and bake for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Is lobster good for you?

Similar to fish, lobster is pretty low in calories and has a lot of protein. Medical News Today says that in just one cup of cooked lobster there are 129 calories, only about one gram of fat, no carbs, and almost 28 grams of protein. Of course, this is before it is dipped in fatty butter.

The same amount of lobster also contains 3% of someone's daily vitamin A, 9% of someone's daily calcium, and 3% of their iron. The health benefits just continue, with the presence of copper, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids (via Medical News Today).

Omega-3 fatty acids aren't in many foods, making lobster one of few to offer a good amount per portion. In just three ounces of lobster there is about 200 to 500 milligrams of omega-3. These acids are great for decreasing aggression, impulsivity, and depression.

Whether in pasta, a sandwich, patty, or by itself, lobster has so much to offer!