Skip to main content

This tasty crustacean will make you forget all about the canceled crab season

Need some seafood decadence? Try the Spiny Lobster, a California delicacy now very much in season

Climate change has take a dramatic toll on the planet this year, impacting everything from crops to seafood. In the water, it’s been a particularly trying year, with low numbers shutting down everything from salmon runs to Alaska crab season. But it’s not all bad.

For those looking for a bit of seafood luxury, there are still some sound options, ranging from scallops and caviar to lobster. One crustacean that’s being harvested right now off the west coast is the California Spiny Lobster. This meaty bottom-feeder lacks claws, but makes up for it with a massive tail and an overall size that can reach 20 pounds.

Related Videos
A California Spiny Lobster in a tank.

Did we mention that they’re delicious? California’s oceanic delicacy is in full season, caught from October through March. Generally, they’re sweeter than Maine Lobsters, with more meat as well. They’re caught from Baja all the way up to Morro Bay and, at the moment, the population seems stable and the fishery in good shape. Fishers will use square traps baited with things like salmon heads to attract the lobster, or free dive and catch them by hand.

To get some more insights on this particular oceanic delicacy, we reached out to Fabrice Poigin, the culinary director at King’s Seafood Company. He says the Spiny Lobster population has been stable since the 1980s (and cites the California Ocean Protection Council for this). “It seems like there is no slowing down and this season looks just as good,” he says.

A big part of that is due to the significant sustainability efforts on behalf of the fishery at large. Poigin says it really started in 2004 with the Baja California red rock fishery, which achieved certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. “The Spiny Lobster stock is managed using several regulations designed to protect the spawning potential of Spiny Lobster,” he adds. “The current minimum size limit allows many lobsters to reproduce for one-to-two years before reaching the legal size limit.”

The seasonal closure from March through October helps too, protecting the critters during the spawning season. “Also, a harvest control rule was recently developed to provide an adaptive management framework that provides the department with flexibility to adjust the management approach as threats to the sustainability of the Spiny Lobster fishery are identified.”

How to cook them

Spiny Lobster grilled and served on a plate.

At Poigin’s restaurants, they use a high-pressure steamer to speed up the cooking. Most of us lack one of those, but there are other ways. “I would simply prepare a court-bouillon using celery, onion, carrot, parsley, and a good quality vinegar but a large volume of salted water,” he says. A two-pound Spiny Lobster can be cooked in about 18-20 minutes, he says, and you can cut that time in half if you plan to grill them.

Poigin says the meat is firmer than their Atlantic brethren and with no claws, all the deliciousness is in the tail. He loves both versions but loves the length of the Spiny Lobster season (four solid months) as well as a bit more of that iodine flavor that he attributes to the lobsters’ home in warmer waters (compared to the east coast).

Oh, and be careful. “If you decide to cook the lobster at home, make sure to wear a glove while handling it, as its carapace can cut through the skin quite easily,” he adds.

What to look for when purchasing

“When purchasing a live lobster, make sure that it doesn’t come into direct contact with ice and should not be submerged in water,” Poigin says. You should be looking for the size you’re after and that the animal is alive.

“A spiny that has come out of the water should be moving quite a bit with its tail flapping aggressively,” he says. “Once dead, keep in the coldest compartment of your fridge over a platter as the meat inside the shell will slowly lose water and moisture.” Poigin says that Spiny Lobster will stay fresh for a couple of days.

While you’re out getting supplies, get your hands on a nice Chardonnay, dry Riesling, or Pinot Blanc, the wine will pair with the lobster nicely.

Editors' Recommendations

Want to build muscle? A doctor says you should eat these foods
If you're looking to bulk up those biceps, these are the foods you should be eating
Fish fillets, chicken meat, and red meat on top of distressed white cutting boards along with nuts, cheese, dairy, and eggs.

The world of nutrition and muscle growth can be a terribly confusing one. Between the madness of the latest trends in health, fad diets, the newest "must have" workout gear, and toxic weight-loss culture, it's easy to want to throw in the towel and reach for a box of Twinkies. But tucked in, hidden in all of this confusion, there are some things about fitness and muscle growth that are just always true. The biggest truth of them all is that abs really are made in the kitchen. You can work yourself into a frenzy with a fancy gym membership, but without proper nutrition, your body is just running on toxic fumes.

Muscle building requires a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Dr. Noel Abood, owner and director of Solon Spine & Wellness Center in Ohio, shared with us his expert advice on the top foods one should be eating for ultimate muscle growth. So if you've been frustrated with the results of your workout routine, or are looking to bulge those biceps a bit more, here are some of the foods you'll want to add these items to your grocery list.

Read more
This is how a hot dog is made (and yes, it’s as gross as you think)
How are hot dogs made (You know you're curious)
Hot dogs.

When it comes to hot dogs, most of us live in a pleasant bubble of deniability. This phallic little meat medley has had people looking the other way for over a century. Thanks to the high school trauma we all undoubtedly suffered after reading The Jungle, it's a wonder we aren't all vegetarians. There's a reason we don't want to know how hot dogs are made, or what hot dogs are made of. The truth is, though, hot dogs are delicious. And if we shove our fingers in our ears far enough when people start cracking mystery meat jokes, we don't have to really think about "how the sausage gets made." And then a video like this comes along.
Some people aren't affected by the less-than-glamorous truth behind certain foods. Of these people, I am jealous. My brother, for example, once paused Super Size Me to leave his house and drive through McDonald's. He returned home, unpaused the film, and enjoyed watching the rest of it while dipping his nuggets in sweet and sour. I applaud him, and the others who fall into this rather tenacious camp. But as for the rest of us, this video may be a little hard to stomach.
How It's Made: Hot Dogs
We will say that the hot dog making process does get high marks for sustainability, using parts of the (many) animals that would otherwise go to waste. Scraps and trimmings from beef, pork, and chicken are ground and combined to create a mostly waste-free food. That's a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, the beauty stops there.
Once the ground meat is combined, "processed chicken trimmings" (we dare not ask) are added along with starches and seasonings. Give the mix a gargantuan churning with industrial-sized wheels, slosh in some water, and a shocking amount of corn syrup, and you get what the video actually calls...meat batter. The use of this word combined with the visuals shown at the moment it's used is something that will undoubtedly haunt your nightmares in the years to come. Don't say we didn't warn you.
From here, the horror eases a bit. The...meat cased in cellulose, linked, baked, removed from the casing, inspected, and packaged. And that's how hot dogs are made.
Now that your morbid curiosity has been satisfied, go grab yourself a drink. We sure did.

Read more
How to make a caipirinha, a perfect day drink
Caipirinha: This refreshing and sweet Brazilian cocktail is amazing and a surefire hit


Novo Fogo Cascadian-Caipbeerinha.

Read more