The Rolls-Royce of Lobster
by Brian Wubbena, Director of Culinary
I guess that we should get this out of the way first: it’s my belief that South African lobster tail is the best lobster dish that you’ll ever taste. Nothing else even comes close. Now, with that in mind, let’s chat about them in a little more detail.
When most people think of cold-water lobsters, they think of the classic Maine lobster with two claws. When most people think of warm-water lobsters, they think of the giant Florida or Caribbean spiny lobster with a huge tail and no claws. South African lobsters are interesting in the sense that they incorporate the best of both worlds. Although they do not have claws or an oversized tail, South African lobsters are true cold-water lobsters with sweet meat and a muscular, steak-like tail because of their natural habitat’s water temperatures and depth.
There are four different species of South African lobster, and we use the South Coast rock lobster or Palinurus Gilchristi at Truluck’s. The reason for this is that this area is extremely well managed by South Africa Fishing Ethically (SAFE). SAFE is committed to fully protecting the stewardship, sustainability, quality, and traceability of South Coast fisheries. This is important because due to the demand and price, poaching businesses thrive in this region. One of, if not the largest poaching settlements of all time was settled over these lobsters to the tune of $22.5 million and prison time.
There are only three operators in the world that are allowed to fish off the South Coast. At Truluck’s, we partner with the operator Ruwekus (Rigel brand) because they are ultra-high quality, practice a unique freezing process, and are simply good, fun people we trust. After years of working with Ruwekus, I was finally able to meet them in person and they insisted that we go to Disney World. How’s that for fun? If you’ve never had the opportunity to shoot through a world-famous theme park with three highly organized, determined and jet-lagged lobster fisher-people, I highly recommend it.
So, back to the lobsters. They’re known as crayfish or “kreef” locally. These kreef are caught on the boat, The Rigel 4, using long line pots at depths of 450 to 650 feet with the average temperature being about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The boat goes out for a month-long fishing trip, and the crayfish caught along the journey must be frozen to keep them fresh. The Rigel 4 crew processes the kreef they catch by blast freezing them under 20 minutes after being caught to prevent excessive handling and thawing/rethawing. This may not seem like a big deal but it’s a significant game changer and produces a perfectly delicious tail. The animal itself is of superior quality but the uniqueness of the Rigel process preserves that sweet taste and firm texture.
That’s the story of the delectable South African lobster tail that we feature at Truluck’s. Rest assured that you’ve never experienced a lobster, kreef or crayfish of this quality. Just one bite will convince you that no other lobster compares. They’re really that good. Indulge during your next visit. Your table is waiting.