In the Chatham Islands, crayfish is a prized delicacy, and lobster is considered a quintessentially North American seafood dish. But what’s the difference? What’s in a name when it comes to these curious creatures?
As it turns out, New Zealand crays, the gnarly, red, rock-loving sea creatures we know and love, are only called crayfish down under. The rest of the world knows the delicious yet spiky crustaceans as lobsters - the most common one being the Maine Lobster found in the Atlantic Ocean.
The most distinctive difference between the northern hemisphere’s lobster and New Zealand’s crayfish is its large crushing pincers on their first pair of legs. New Zealand crayfish also have much longer antennae and one less pair of legs.
Cray or crayfish is a distinctly antipodean name for ocean-dwelling crustaceans. The term crayfish refers to freshwater crays (also known as crawfish in North America) and is technically incorrect when referring to marine lobsters throughout the rest of the world. To avoid confusion in overseas markets, New Zealand crayfish are marketed as rock lobsters and are particularly prized in the Chinese market.
How does the taste compare?
North American lobsters are loved for the juicy meat in their large front pincers, and in New Zealand crays, the most succulent meat is found in the tails.
New Zealand crayfish is famed for its delicate flavour, and we would argue that it tastes better than its North American counterpart. New Zealand crayfish has a mild taste, with a moreish sweetness that naturally balances its salty, oceanic flavours, with a more dense texture than lobster.
While nothing beats the simplicity of a cray grilled on the BBQ with a squeeze of lemon, Chatham Island crayfish works just as well as the hero of more complex seafood mains like this crayfish, coconut and turmeric curry, created by top New Zealand Chef and owner of Homeland, Peter Gordon.
Chatham Island crayfish tails are available to purchase on our website. The nutrient-dense waters help to promote a thriving ecosystem around the Islands and exceptionally large crays. Our tails come in various sizes, quantities and combo boxes, snap-frozen for fresh-tasting premium crayfish from the edge of the world, delivered to your door.
This recipe was created using our Chatham Island Crayfish Tails...