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Big Mistake!

Lobster has been slam dancing down the corridors of my mind a lot lately, so yesterday while shopping at Sam's Club, their giant lobster tails caught my eye. "Buy me, buy me, buy me," they chanted seductively. But $27.88 a pound? hmmmm... think think think....

Okay. Last time I had a whole Maine lobster in a restaurant, it was basically inedible. It was so stale I was sure it must have been the first lobster ever caught by a European! Sending it back hadn't helped because they brought me its twin. Really bad, and the menu price had been well over thirty bucks. Okay! $27.88 a pound makes sense. Into the cart goes 1.2 pounds, meaning two tails not of equal size.

I failed to read the small print on the label BEFORE paying for them and hauling them home. The label says, "Product of the Bahamas. Wild." It's WARM WATER lobster! Not good. Really tough shells that only turn orange, not red, when cooked. And worst of all, you have to concentrate really hard and focus if you want them to taste like lobster when you eat them. Oh, there's a remiscent flavor all right. But it doesn't make love to your taste buds the way cold water lobster does. Or as Peggy Lee (RIP) would have put it, it was a giant "Is That All There Is?" type of experience.

So from now on, I read labels carefully, even if I have to start carrying a magnifying glass in my pocket. But there must be some people who like it or Sam's Club wouldn't always have so many of them in stock

Fortunately, I picked up a couple of Alaskan king crab legs too. DEEEElicious! And they were only $12.47 a pound. Next time I'll know where to spend my money!

Anyone else had warm water lobster? What was your experience? Oh! And have you also had cold water lobster to compare them with? Maybe it's just me.

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  1. As a preferably warm-water scuba diver, I've spent lots of time in the Caribbean and eaten lots of warm-water lobster--even freshly caught ones. They're never as good, to my mind, as Maine lobster. They'll do in a pinch, especially if slathered with garlic and butter or other sauces that Maine lobster doesn't require. But I agree, they just don't have the flavor that cold-water lobster does.

    1. I live in Florida, so we eat Florida lobster tails often. I don't find them objectionable as you do. And yes, I've often eaten Maine lobster in restaurants.

      --Lisa

      1. You should have bought more crab. I like the flavor of crab more than lobster.

        1. Well, yeah, if you're expecting American lobster, you're going to be disappointed... it's a completely different animal. They aren't even in the same family, much less the same genus or species :-)

          That said, I'm a fan of spiny lobster. It is what it is and it's good at that. Lobster dishes in Asia, for example, use spiny lobster (I don't believe it's the exact same breed as the one from the Bahamas you mention, but I believe it's similar), and I couldn't imagine substituting American lobster.

          I guess what I'm saying is that they're distinct enough that I hate to call one "better". The problem, I think, is when people are set up to expect that spiny lobster is going to be similar.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Dmnkly

            Don't know what "American" lobster is, but I've had large clawed "Main type" lobster both in the U.S. and in Europe. But cold water seems to be the great determiner of flavor, as far as I can tell. Spiny lobster tails from Australia are certainly flavorful. So are California spiny lobsters. I had no idea water temperature made such a difference until I got those critters home and cooked them. It's like expecting cake and getting bread.

            1. re: Caroline1

              American lobster, Maine lobster... same difference. Genus Homarus, Species Americanus. The species of the ones in Europe is Gammarus. But they're both Homarus.

              I misunderstood the distinction you were making. But aren't California spiny lobsters warm water? I don't think it's as simple as "cold water good, warm water bad".

              1. re: Dmnkly

                There was a time when California's waters were warm, especially south of Santa Barbara. Then, gradually throughout the 20th century, man put dams up on every river feeding into the Pacific (one was left un-dammed in the 1960s when my husband and I did an environmental seminar with Paul Ehrlich, but I don't hold much hope for it today), and that, of course, cut off all of the sand going into long shore drift, which cut away all of the sandy beaches, changed the course of the Humboldt current, and generally made a mess of things.

                I grew up in San Diego. I am now 74 years old. Well, at least until September. When I was in high school, we used to have New Years Eve swimming parties behind Hotel del Coronado, and the water was warm. Also, in high school, I cut my feet on live coral in the La Jolla Cove.

                Today, you will turn to a block of ice if you swim behind the Hotel Del in the wintertime. There isn't any live coral for god knows how many hundreds (thousands?) of miles.

                Forty to fifty years ago, Del Mar used to have a huge sand castle festival. As of about thirty five or so years ago, they had to haul in sand and dump it on the beach for the festival. The ocean has undercut the bluffs of Solana Beach, and some condos have fallen into the ocean as a result.

                And the water is like ice! There was a time, when I was a kid, you saw surfers in shorts. Today you see wet suits, wet suits, wet suits! But the lobsters love it...!!! '-)

            2. re: Dmnkly

              Suburban Toronto has some of the best Chinese restaurants outside of China, and they have adapted north Atlantic lobster (American?) perfectly to their cuisine.

              1. re: jayt90

                I'm not suggesting it won't be delicious, but it certainly won't be the same. I LIKE that "inferior" texture with a lot of Asian dishes. :-)

                That said, I would be curious to see if they did a straight substitution or retooled the recipes somewhat.

                1. re: Dmnkly

                  When you are in Ontario, make a side trip to Markham and Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, for an amazing enclave of Asian restaurants.

            3. I have had warm water lobster in SE Asia, and it was not as good as Maine, IMO. As a matter of fact, once I read your post, I realized that I generally prefer any type of sea food from the colder waters, be it shellfish or fish.

              3 Replies
              1. re: macca

                That's like saying that you've had chicken, and it was not as good as beef. They're different animals entirely and should not be expected to taste the same.

                As far as water temperature goes, there are some who believe that some of the best and most varied seafood in the world is found off the Hawai'ian Islands, where the water temperature seldom dips below 70F. Ahi, mahi mahi, ono, opakapaka and all the other groundfish--oh, and slippah lobstah, too.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I don't think it is like chicken and beef. And I never said I expected them to taste the same. I mean I would prefer salmon instead of snapper, for instance- or swordfish and tuna instead of mahi mahi. And I am sure that "some" believe that the best seafood is off Hawaiian Islands- I am just not one of them!

                  1. re: macca

                    Hmmm, the swordfish and the tuna I caught off the Kona coast last month must have been lost. Or maybe they just liked the company of the mahi mahi.