Food for Thought
Who needs those high-priced shrimp? Lobster fever has Houston restaurants seeing green
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been swimming in lobster lately.
The king of crustaceans is turning up everywhere in Houston it seems. I can’t count the number of lobster rolls I’ve eaten at the new Maine-ly Sandwich shop that opened inside the Loop and then there’s the newly reopened Palm steakhouse, where they walk the giant Nova Scotia lobsters around the dining room for your enjoyment.
Just the other day a divine lobster cake with chipotle aioli turned up on the lunch menu at Sorrel Urban Bistro and Max’s Wine Dive is bringing back its lobster pot pie for the whole month of October.
Nobody wants to pay for a dead lobster on their doorstep.
So what’s up with all this lobster?
This summer, while shrimp prices jumped more than 50 percent due to an outbreak of Early Mortality Syndrome in Asian shrimp farms (which does not concern us — because I know you are eating the fresh Gulf Coast shrimp here in Houston) lobster prices are at an all-time low. Some news reports say that Maine lobstermen are selling lobster right off the boats for as low as $2.20 a pound.
Warm waters and fewer predators have resulted in a lobster glut. They are practically jumping into the boats. This is not good news for lobstermen, and not really good news for you, unless you are in Maine and can buy them off the boats.
I haven’t noticed any restaurants lowering the price of lobster on the menu and if you can find live Maine lobster here, it’s likely not going to be on sale. Despite the lower prices coming out of New England, here in Houston we aren’t likely to return to the old days when restaurants like Pappas Seafood House offered all-you-could-eat lobster. My personal best was three two-pounders.
Lobsters By Mail
If Texans want to take advantage of the lobster glut on the East Coast, the best way is to order live Maine lobsters online.
Here’s a handy guide to Maine companies that ship live lobsters courtesy of the Maine Lobster Council. The only company I’ve ever ordered from on this list is Lobster Gram, which seems to get high ratings. Their Original Lobster Gram delivers two one-pound live Maine lobsters, lemon, clarified butter, lobster crackers, seafood forks, bibs and recipe book for $65.95.
Warm waters and fewer predators have resulted in a lobster glut. They are practically jumping into the boats.
One company, not on the above list because they are based in Rhode Island, is The Lobster Guy.com. They recently had a special for two live, one and one fourth pound lobsters for just $27.99! I can’t vouch for them as I haven’t ordered from them yet, but founder Tim Handrigan is on Discovery Channel’s Lobstermen! so it seems like a good company. And their prices seem to be the lowest online.
There are some tips for ordering live Maine lobsters you'd be wise to follow though.
Do the research. Don’t just go for the lowest purchase price. Be sure to add in the cost of shipping, which can be expensive. Some companies charge a flat rate, some include the price in the cost, some charge the actual rate.
You want to make sure the company will ship overnight, ship in the right containers (lobsters can live up to 48 hours out of water as long as they are refrigerated), and you certainly want a company that guarantees live delivery. Nobody wants to pay for a dead lobster on their doorstep.
Oh, and make sure somebody is home to receive the delivery. I can’t imagine spending good money to get live lobsters overnighted and then having the package sit in the Texas sun or experiencing a neighbor’s cat breaking into it for a little snack.
Lobsters are best cooked and eaten the day they arrive.
And don’t even think about keeping them as pets in the bathtub. That’ll kill them quicker than a plunge into boiling water.