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Balmain Bugs on the Barbecue

Updated on March 18, 2014

Just what is a Balmain Bug?

Balmain bugs aren't really bugs. They're small lobsters, slipper lobsters and are fished in shallow waters around Australia

What makes them different from other lobsters is that they have a broad, flat body and no claws.

You can poach, steam or grill the bugs, or serve them as a cold seafood platter with a light lemon mayonnaise, aioli or dill vinaigrette. My favourite way to cook Balmain bugs is on the barbecue.

Here are a couple of Balmain Bugs which I bought at Queen Victoria Market

Online Cooking Unit Conversion

How to Prepare Balmain Bugs

Place the Balmain bug, upside down, on a large, flat chopping board.

With a sharp knife, separate the tail from the head.

Cut along the centre of the tail and carefully remove the centre vein

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 5 min
  • Ready in: 10 min
  • Yields: 8


  • 8 Balmain bugs
  • 60 g melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
  • lime wedges


  1. Spray a barbecue or chargrill with a little oil. Preheat on high.
  2. Remove the head
  3. Slice the bugs in half lengthways.
  4. Carefully remove the centre vein from the tails using the point of a knife.
  5. In a small jug, whisk together butter, lime juice, garlic and lime rind.
  6. Brush bugs with butter mixture and season to taste.
  7. Barbecue for 3-5 minutes each side, or until golden and cooked through.
  8. Serve with lime wedges.
Cast your vote for Barbecued Balmain Bugs with Lime and Garlic

Balmain Bugs and Moreton Bay Bugs

Moreton Bay Bugs are found in warmer waters further north of Sydney, (Balmain is a suburb of Sydney), and they look very much alike.

They taste the same too.

The way to prepare both bugs, and the recipes to cook them, are interchangeable.

Up close and personal with Balmain Bugs

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Eat your Seafood with Style

Oggi 8 Piece Seafood Set
Oggi 8 Piece Seafood Set

Set includes ceramic butter warmers, a chrome steel stand, seafood forks, zinc alloy seafood crackers and ceramic ramekins for extra sauces


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How about you?

How do you like your Balmain Bugs?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've seen these cooked on bizarre foods before, enjoyed seeing them here today and actually knowing what they are.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Oh, thank goodness. I really thought it was some disgusting insect recipe. I was not aware of these "bugs," but I do like lobster so would probably love them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Never heard of them but I like the sound of lime and garlic on the bbq.

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      I'd never heard of these before, but I'd try them!

    • KellydeBorda profile image

      KellydeBorda 6 years ago

      Great lens! Nice pics and good information. :) Blessed by the Barbecue Angel! (haha... and my 'captcha' was 'twitbug'!)