What happens when you mix A Sustainable Kitchen, Seafood for the Future, Edible Westside Magazine and Ray Garcia of FIG Restaurant?
You get a demo featuring this spiny lobster dream team and more chances to enjoy this local crustacean on a special limited menu later in the season. Details will be revealed in the winter issue of the Edible Westside Magazine due out in early December.
from our Seafood Expert, Kim Thompson
When most of us think of lobster, the image of the bright red crustacean with giant claws
strewn out in front, glistening on a plate with a side of melted butter comes to mind. Over
the course of the summer, coastal communities all over Southern California celebrate
these clawed American or “Maine” lobsters from New England in a series of Lobster
Fests. Meanwhile, the clawless, California native spiny lobster is nowhere to be found.
California spiny lobster season is officially in session, yet you’ll be hard-pressed to
find festivals held in their honor or “Surf and Turf” specials featuring the local spinys.
Because they are both considered cold water lobsters, there is no overwhelming
difference in taste between the locals and their imported counterparts from the Northeast.
Arguments in favor of American lobster are the claw meat and price, while California
spinys tend to yield more edible meat pound for pound. In regards to sustainability,
both fisheries are well-managed to ensure healthy stocks and minimize impacts on their
surrounding environments. So why don’t we see California spiny lobster on more menus
in Southern California? Supply!
To give some perspective, the spiny lobster trap fishery in California produced just
over 0.715 million pounds in 2010. The American lobster fishery produced more than
115.4 million pounds that same year. Given the limited supply of California spinys,
they cost more. The result, instead of savoring and celebrating local and responsibly
harvested lobster straight from the boat, we are utilizing more fossil fuels to export it
while we import responsible, but not-so-fresh American lobster from the other side of the
We can all agree this is silly! The local movement is growing and more and more, chefs
are looking to local seasonal items for their menus. Some are finding ways to include
local delicacies such as the California spiny lobster with special limited edition menus
and/or creating new and inspired dishes that feature the lobster rather than slapping the
whole thing on a plate flanked by a steak and butter.
This winter, show your support for local seafood and the restaurants that are thinking
outside the box to feature California spiny lobster. You can also purchase them for yourself to impress your guests at holiday parties at the Newport Dory Fleet, Ventura
Harbor Fisherman’s Market, and through the Santa Barbara Community Seafood CSF.
*Please check websites for availability.