Summer seafood: rock lobster
Our rock lobster fishers have had a tough time of it of late. Along with the impacts of foodservice closures and disruptions to supply chains, there’s also the ongoing trade stoush with China. China has long been the biggest importer of Aussie rock lobster, but since last year, imports have been suspended. Once lucrative trade relationships have halted overnight, and our lobster fishers have had to find new markets for their premium produce. But while this is certainly bad news for our fishers, it’s good news for consumers.
“As we saw last year, Australian rock lobsters are again a great buy,” says Seafood Industry Australia CEO Veronica Papacosta. “People can expect to find small, whole western rock lobster starting at $20-25, moving up to $30-32 whole for a 400-500g lobster.”
You could also consider the tropical lobster. Available wild-caught, these marine crustaceans have the widest distribution of all Aussie rock lobsters, found from Margaret River in WA, around the northern coast of Australia down to the Central Coast of NSW.
“Tropical rock lobsters are a good buy,” says Marshall Betzel, President of the Queensland Seafood Marketers Association. “You may be able to find them in retail for about $50 per kilogram. There are still some limitations on export and it’s competing with the other Australian rock lobster in the market from NSW, WA, SA and Tasmania. So the prices are lower than they’ve been in the past years. These lobsters are from the Torres Strait, and they look and taste fantastic. They’ll be a real show-stopper.”
So if you’re planning a seafood spread over the holidays, consider Aussie rock lobster. They’re not only at a great price right now; Australia’s rock lobster fisheries are generally sustainably fished, unlike imported lobster. Oh, and they also happen to be delicious.
Top tips for lobster prep
Take your frozen lobster out the night before and leave it in the fridge to defrost overnight. If guests arrive early or you’re rushed for time, you can defrost rock lobster in a sink of cool water. Smaller lobsters should only take 30 minutes to defrost. If you’re planning to split your lobster to serve or cook, don’t split until you’re ready to prepare. This helps to prevent oxidisation of the lobster meat. It’s harmless, but could affect the flavour.