Balmain bug or butterfly fan lobster, is a species of slipper lobster. It lives in shallow waters around Australia and is the subject of small-scale fishery. It is a flattened, reddish brown animal, up to 23 cm (9 in) long and 14 cm (6 in) wide, with flattened antennae and no claws.The meat of bugs, found only in the tail, has a medium-to-strong flavour. They can be bought as frozen meat or whole, to be eaten on their own as an entrée, or as part of a main dish.
They are best prepared by poaching, steaming, barbecuing or grilling. As bugs provide good presentation and marry well with other seafood, they are excellent for cold seafood platters—served with a light lemon mayonnaise, aioli or dill vinaigrette.
When cut down the centre lengthways, bugs will grill and barbecue beautifully over a high heat. They are superb served on their own, with the above-mentioned dressings or pesto, or as a warm salad with fresh asparagus and parmesan. To prevent discolouration of the flesh, sprinkle with a little lemon or lime.
The flesh of the bug is an ideal, flavoursome filling for meats, such as an alternative in carpetbag steak or with veal, asparagus and hollandaise (the “veal oscar”). Bug meat is also an appetising additive to fish cakes—served with sweet chilli coriander.