The Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus), more widely known as langoustine, or deep-sea lobster, lives in waters up to 500 meters deep between Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the North Sea, and into the Atlantic, as far north as Iceland and south to Portugal.
It is seemingly very fragile, but its thin shell can withstand enormous pressure as it comes up from the bottom of the sea.
Appearance and teste
Norway lobster have a pink carapace when alive – unlike the other crustaceans, they do not need camouflage as they live in tunnels in the seabed. They are sweet, mildly flavored, somewhat like lobster, but not as dense-fleshed. Most of the catch is sold in southern Europe as scampi, which Is only the tail.
Related: Scandinavian Shellfish and Molluscs
Buying and storing
Norway lobsters are always dead when you buy them as they cannot survive long after the quick ascent to the surface from hundreds of meters below. The smell must be fresh and salty; any whiff of ammonia tells you that they are too old. Their freshness deteriorates quickly, so always buy Norway lobsters the day you are going to eat them.
Related: Scandinavian Ray
They are best when grilled or barbecued, but a short ride in a griddle pan will also be fine. They need intense heat to bring out their juiciness.
To prepare them for cooking, simply split them in half lengthways with a very sharp, heavy knife, then remove the thin, split lobsters simply with either melted butter or with olive oil and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and garlic; and always a twist of sea salt and black pepper. They need very short cooking time, just a few minutes, basically until the flesh changes color from opaque to white, and not a moment longer. Eat as they are, or with a classic northern accompaniment of lemon, chervil cream and toast.
You won’t find much meat in the claws, but the spent carcasses are wonderful for soup.
Feature image (on top), Photo by Arnstein Rønning
Norway Lobster, written by Tor Kjolberg