Astakos Coral Eggs

We eat them, we should understand them better and enjoy them more. Respect for mother nature is key, and through research we begin to learn how to protect the foods we adore.

Landing eggs bearing female lobsters is prohibited in the USA and Canadian waters. This management measure is one of the very best protections afforded to lobsters. Now zip across the Atlantic and land in the Aegean, where the spiny lobster is a serious delicacy and also protected.

These are the fully ripe internal egg masses in the ovaries, known as roe and in other fish caviar. It’s the roe, the unfertilized eggs of the female. The roe is also called “coral” because of its bright red color. But these aren’t so red and are more orange.


The body of the lobster has at the top shell, where the tail meets the head, and there you find large sacs of roe. If you are careful, as I was, you can remove the tail and the roe stays in the ovaries located in the head. In essence the tail is just a mass of muscle and the rest is in the upper body.

Lobster eggs develop for nine or ten months inside the female’s ovaries. Then she finds a secluded spot, lies on her back, folds her tail to create a pouch, and squirts the eggs out through a pair of ducts. At the same time, she opens her seminal receptacle, and fertilizes the eggs she has stored since mating. She attaches the eggs to the underside of her tail with adhesive from glands on her swimmerets, and carries them around for another ten months’ development before they hatch, when she releases them.


As a side note; most chefs cook the roe and once it is cooked it has a hard consistency, a waste of the eggs. I wonder what would happen if you take the raw eggs and separate them by using either a sieve or a simple centrifuge. My guess is, the eggs cells would be crushed and would be only useful for a sauce.

Basically the roe are in cells, tiny sacs protected by protein and fat. If you cook the roe it loses most of natural juices, if not all, and that is a loss of “taste pleasure”. While these muscle cells contain both actin and myosin, they are unusual cells in that they are densely packed with microtubules.

The solubility of these substances fundamentally depends on the physical and chemical properties of the solute as well as on temperature, pressure and the pH of the solution. So practically speaking you need a cocktail to help make the lobster roe soluble.

Perhaps a practical way to preserve the eggs would be to cook them sous vides but not under pressure but alternatively in a bag in a water bath by removing the air by hand.

My idea is to take the eggs, and preserve them as many do with bottarga, and maintain the color and texture and taste. The eggs would be washed and later preserved to semi-harden. This process requires more time and consideration in order to perfect it. The only problem is roe is rare.

3 Facts:

1.Believe it or not, when migrating or moving to another area, they line up, touching their antennae to the tail of the lobster in front of them. As many as 100,000 lobsters will get in this line, which is thought to look like one long eel. If a brave animal dares to attack, the lobsters gather in a circle with their tail pointing inward, displaying all of their spines outward.

2.Like all arthropods, the nervous system of a lobster is very primitive, and contains far fewer nerve cells than our nervous systems. The nerve cells are grouped in clusters called ganglia. Further, a lobster has no cerebral cortex, the area of the human brain that gives the perception of pain.

3.During breeding season, once a male has found a female, he uses his front legs to grasp her gently and pull her out of her cave headfirst. The male slides his body under hers so that the lobsters rest belly-to-belly, and he then transfers a small sac containing sperm to the female’s tail before she returns to her shelter. When the female’s eggs are ready to fertilize, she breaks the sac open to liberate the sperm. The fertilized eggs are held under her tail for roughly four weeks until they hatch. Females with eggs are known as “gravid” or “berried” females. The breeding season of this lobster spans late spring through summer, with mating occurring during the day.