Norway Lobster

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Norway lobster (or Dublin Bay prawn, and langoustine in French) Nephrops norvegicus, a small lobster which is found from Iceland down to Morocco, and in the W. and C. Mediterranean, especially the Adriatic. Its maximum length, not counting the claws, is 24 cm (9–10"). Its carapace is pink, rose, or orange-red, often quite pale, and its claws are banded in red and white. It lives on a muddy sea bottom, in burrows, from which it emerges at night to seek food.

The name Norway lobster has a simple explanation: this crustacean is abundant on the coast of Norway. It owes its second name to the circumstance that fishing boats coming into Dublin Bay often had a catch of it on board, which was disposed of to street vendors and hawked as ‘Dublin Bay prawns’; or, say some, because they were caught in Dublin Bay itself. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Irish were ahead of the British in eating the creature, since it was not until the 1950s that British fishermen began to think it worth while landing it. (It is nonetheless to be remarked that Lord, 1867, stated that many Norway lobsters were imported and that for every regular lobster sold at Billingsgate fish market, four Norway lobsters were sold. This shows that they were already popular in the 19th century.)