Farm to table. Sea to Plate. Hoop-net to Grill. This process we follow as fishermen and sea-foodies, few things yield greater reward than catching and cooking a locally sourced bounty. Especially so when said ocean treasures taste as good as California spiny lobster!
For Southern California anglers, a fishing adventure within our vast backyard can produce some of the best seafood eats. Bar none. We are blessed with a myriad of tasty species ripe for amazing table fare, but few outshine the spiny lobster. And call me crazy or maybe even delusional, but I’m convinced there’s something in the water around Catalina Island that produces an even sweeter “bug”. Or perhaps that’s just the taste of nostalgia for those of us who are fortunate enough to hoop amongst the dramatic cliff and hillside backdrops of this stunning offshore island.
The Catch: California Spiny Lobster
- Location: Catalina Island
- Method: Hoop-Netting
- Process: hoop-nets are baited (salmon heads used here), and set at various depths in soft bottom spots outside of rock structure. 45-60 minute soak – then hoops hand-pulled to procure the tasty bugs.
The Prep: Live and/or Parboiled
- Care: Each lobster is measured, with legal+ bugs placed in livewell with raw saltwater. Transported live in YETI Tundra with cold saltwater.
- Tools Needed: Large pots(s) + YETI Tundra + Ice + Water + Cold beverage & tunes of choice.
- Process: Place 1-2 live lobster into rapidly boiling water for 3-5 minutes (depending on size). Remove from boiling water – they should be bright red in color. For lobsters to be cooked immediately: allow to cool slightly. For those to be savored at a later date: immediately place into YETI with ice + water to cool for 20-30 minutes. Pat dry, and place in freezer.
The Cook: Grilled Lobster Halves with Escargot Butter
- Piece de resistance: Looking to good friends at Saraspe Seafoods for recipe inspo, and true to form without disappointment found a proper, yet elegant lobster dish. I’m sure we’ve heard some say that lobster is just a vessel for butter. While I hold no grudges against churned milk, I must whole-heartedly disagree in this case. This sweet spiny lobster is the main attraction & the fancy butter enhances.
- Whole spiny lobsters
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
- 1 small shallot, peeled & chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- ½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
- Sea salt to taste
- Set the butter in a food processor along with the shallot + garlic, and pulse to combine. Pulse in the cognac, parsley, and a nice pinch of salt.
- Work everything in the food processor until it is smooth and green, adding more salt or garlic to taste. Butter can be made 12 hours ahead, wrapped tightly in a log or stored covered in a bowl, and refrigerated.
- Set your grill to high heat.
- Working one at a time and wearing heavy-duty gloves, set a lobster on a flat surface with its belly facing down. Holding the lobster firmly with your non-dominate hand, use the other hand to insert a large knife right between the lobster’s eyes. Use the same knife to cut the lobster in half, cutting right down the center of the shell. Transfer lobster halves to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining lobsters.
- Place lobster halves on the grill with the flesh side facing down and cook, undistributed, until grill marks form, about 4 minutes. Flip lobster halves, smothering each on with escargot butter, and cook until the lobster flesh is opaque, pulls easily from the, and butter is melted.