Speaking of high-end marine food, the lobster must be on the list. It is not only a hermit in the ocean reef, but also a symbol of delicacy and luxury on the dining table. As a large edible shrimp, the lobster is popular with foodies because of its delicious taste and rich nutritional value. It contains high protein and low fat, with protein content accounting for 6%-20% of the total while fat less that 0.2%. Astaxanthin, which is abundant in lobster, is considered to be the strongest antioxidant. The darker the color is, the higher the astaxanthin content is. Scientists at Osaka University in Japan have found that astaxanthin in shrimps helps eliminate jet lag.
Many people believe that the best lobsters are the Australian lobster and the Boston lobster. But, in fact, the two are outshone by the blue lobster, which is called “a living fossil”. As the top grade in the lobster family, the blue lobster is real aristocrats in the marine world. It is also the first choice of seafood for top Michelin-star restaurants around the world. High-quality Australian lobsters only sell for 200-250 Yuan per kilogram, but the price of blue lobsters is several times higher, far exceeding those of other lobster varieties.
A ONE-IN-A-MILLION LEGENDARY DELICACY
A Chinese saying goes: a thing is valued if it is rare. This is the case with blue lobsters. It is said that only one blue lobster can be found in an average of 2 million lobsters. The high price of the blue lobster is determined by its rarity. But why are blue lobsters so rare?
In fact, most shrimps are brown green in color, and generally become red when cooked. But blue lobsters are mostly dark blue with beautiful golden streaks, so they are especially conspicuous in the ocean. The blueness of blue lobsters is caused by genetic variation. Some lobsters produce excessive amounts of protein in their body. The protein combines with astaxanthin, a red carotenoid molecule to form a blue compound called crustacyanin, which makes the shells of the lobsters bright blue. The blue lobster is similar in shape to the Florida crayfish produced in Florida, USA, and both their body colors are blue. But the Florida crayfish is usually used for ornamental purposes while the blue lobster is an edible shrimp. The main difference between the two is the claws. Florida crayfish’ claws are big and oval, while those of blue lobsters are long. Additionally, Florida crayfish has spots on its body, while the blue lobster does not.
In terms of kinship, the blue lobster and the Boston lobster are closely related in biological classifi cation and can be regarded as cousins. Although they are similar in shape, the blue lobster is not only better in taste, but also more expensive in price. This is because the blue lobster grows very slowly. It takes about seven years and 30 to 35 times of molting for a blue lobster to become a mature individual, which is about 12 inches (around 30 centimeters) long and weighs 2 pounds (about 1.8 kilograms). The growth rate of blue lobsters is half that of Boston lobsters. In Ireland, it takes 4 to 10 years for a blue lobster to reach the minimum catch size of 8.8 cm. Blue lobsters are regarded as "aristocratic" lobsters in traditional European cuisine because of its slow growth, low yield and rarity.
In the natural environment, the recorded maximum body length and weight of blue lobsters are 60 cm and 5-6 kg. Blue lobsters usually like to live in shallow water. They emerge at night for activities or food and hide in caves or stone crevices during the day.
BRETAGNE OF FRANCE THE CAPITAL OF BLUE LOBSTERS
Blue lobsters are mainly found in the northeastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Britain, France, Ireland and Iceland are the major producers of blue lobsters, while France is the largest consumer of blue lobsters in the world. If you ask where the best and most expensive blue lobsters come from, the answer is certainly Bretagne, France.
Located in the northwest of France, the Bretagne Peninsula (the largest peninsula in France) is called an isolated corner by the French, and it is also the most culturally distinctive place in France. In French cuisine, “Bretagne” is a frequent word, and it is usually associated with seafood, as Bretagne is not only a place but also a seafood brand. In the French seafood market, vendors list the origins of the seafood they sell. The seafood produced by Bretagne has high quality and price. As long as the sea food is produced by Bretagne, it must be the best and most expensive.
The Bretagne peninsula has a long coastline. The Bretagne peninsula has a long coastline. The sea is warm all the year round and the average temperature is 22 degrees Celsius. The water is pure and pollution-free. The excellent geographical conditions attract many kinds of marine organisms, including "the sea sapphire" - blue lobsters. So the marine species there are more abundant than in other sea areas, In France, people usually call blue lobsters Bretagne lobsters. Blue lobsters bring considerable income to Bretagne fishermen. Every time they go to sea, they put salted fish in lobster cages, and then put the cages on the seabed 70 meters deep to trap lobsters. If they are lucky enough to catch blue lobsters, the fisherman will send their catch directly to high-end restaurants in Paris. Fishermen who can catch blue lobsters are called "heroes" locally. Bretagne is also known as the "holy land of blue lobsters".
However, it is almost impossible for French blue lobsters to go abroad. Since the 15th century, blue lobsters have been highly popular among high-end French customers. Even some aristocrats may not have the chance to enjoy them. Nowadays, as the number of blue lobsters is decreasing day by day, it is even less available than before. Aquatic importers usually supply blue lobsters directly to restaurants. Usually when blue lobsters are caught, they will be booked immediately, so it is almost impossible to buy blue lobsters through retail channels. Even in high-end French restaurants, it's not easy to find blue lobsters. If covered with wet cloth, the blue lobster can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. However, once the blue lobster dies, its price will drop dramatically. So many high-end restaurants don’t want to take the risks. The price of French blue Lobsters is 50 Euro/kg (about 370 RMB). After they are shipped from the place of origin to China, their price is as high as 800-1000 RMB/kg. However, most of the blue lobsters are reserved for the French who love delicacies, and few are exported, because firstly, it's not easy to catch blue lobsters and secondly, they are not easy to transport.
HIGH-END WAYS TO EAT RARE BLUE LOBSTERS
In the international market, most blue lobsters are exported to Europe, and a small number of them enter the first-tier cities of China. Most of the blue lobsters in the Chinese market come from Ireland and the United Kingdom. At present, in French restaurants, Spanish restaurants and well-known five-star hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao, there are some blue lobster dishes available, mainly baked and roasted. Over the past two years, blue lobsters have gradually become popular in China's high-end seafood circles. Some new restaurants in Shanghai and Guangzhou have also begun to supply blue lobsters. However, their cooking methods have been innovated and integrated with the local ways, such as seafood hotpot, sashimi and steaming.
There are many ways to cook blue lobsters, but the best one is steaming. Only in this way can the original taste of blue lobsters be kept as much as possible. Generally speaking, a one-pound blue lobster only needs to be cooked for 3 minutes. After being cooked thoroughly, it should be cut and shelled immediately. Otherwise, the residual heat of the shell will infiltrate into the shrimp meat, and the over-cooked shrimp will scatter. So it will not taste as fresh and tender. Once the blue lobster is cooked, it should be enjoyed immediately. The meat will become dry and hard after cooling. So cooking for immediate consumption is the right way to eat blue lobsters. In high-end restaurants, waiters usually notify the chef to cook blue lobsters after the guests have eaten the appetizer to ensure the best taste. Although the body of the blue lobster is dark blue, but after boiling, it becomes red like ordinary lobsters. Its meat is tender, smooth, delicate and sweet. With a gentle bite, you can not only feel the rich and sweet lobster flavor, but also the salty taste from the ocean. It is a luxurious enjoyment for the taste bud.
The meat of blue lobster is more delicate and sweeter than that of its relative Boston lobsters. Although they are both delicious, the blue lobster always tastes better. When the Boston lobster grows to a larger size, its meat will become slightly dry and taste less smooth, but the meat of blue lobsters is always delicate regardless of age and size, so the more meat a blue lobster has, the higher the price.Of course, besides steaming, blue Lobsters can be eaten in other ways. In summer, blue lobster sashimi is a very good choice. The delicate, crystal-clear lobster meat absolutely makes you salivate. Crisp and tender, but also a little sweet, it brings the most authentic flavor from the ocean. If dipped in some soy sauce, the taste will be fresher. If you want to try the most authentic French way, you can bake fresh blue lobsters with butter and mushrooms. The delicious shrimp meat combined with rich milk fragrance is irresistible. The meat can be eaten in a variety of ways, but since the blue lobster is so precious, its shell and claws cannot be wasted as well. The best way is to simmer the head, shell and forepaw of blue lobsters for 8 hours in soup stock. Then fully mix the soup and egg liquid. Thus, a lobster egg soup is born. Luxurious delicacies with the simplest ingredients can often bring surprising experience to the taste bud.
Good food cannot go without good wine. Lobsters and wine often complement each other, and Chardonnay is the first choice to match up with lobsters. Most Chardonnay is fermented in oak barrels for a long time, which adds a fascinating butter smell to the full-bodied wine. This wine has obvious melon and vanilla flavors, and can well blend with the salty taste of lobsters. Riesling is usually a light-bodied sweet wine, especially suitable for lobster dishes with relatively simple cooking methods. Riesling wines from Germany generally have a balanced fruit and sour taste, especially suitable for lobsters cooked with lemon.
MAJOR PLACES OF ORIGIN FOR LOBSTERS IN THE WORLD
Lobsters are Canada's most important aquatic product, which have been exported all over the world as the country’s national symbol. Canada is the largest producer of lobsters in the world. Its lobster export volume has maintained a high level for nearly 100 years, and has been on a steady rise in recent decades. The vast majority (78%) of Canadian lobsters are exported to the United States. Other major export markets include Asia (Japan and China) and the European Union (Belgium, France). Canadian lobsters have been exported to more than 50 countries. Canada mainly produces the famous Boston lobster. The Boston lobster, which is black and green, grows very slowly because it lives in cold waters. Unlike other types of lobsters, the Boston lobster has two large, fleshy pro-claws, which account for about 15 of the lobster's total weight.
The Canadian Fisheries and Marine Department manages more than 10,000 fishing vessels operated by 45 lobster fisheries across the country in the Canadian waters of the Atlantic Ocean. All fishing companies must strictly abide by the rules and regulations formulated by the protection department. Specific regulations mainly include restricting the number of fishing licenses, the size of shrimp cages, and the date of shrimp fishing. There are detailed provisions which specify each company's fishing quota, the size of their catches and so on. These regulations make the Canadian lobster industry one of the most standardized and sustainable marine industries in the world. It has become a model of rational use of marine fishery resources, which is followed and studied by countries all over the world.
The Australian lobsters we are familiar with are from southern and northern Australia and FAO57 production areas. Their bodies are red, big and fat. With tender, crisp, delicious and sweet meat, the Australian lobsters are loved by Chinese people. Since the end of 2015, when China and Australia signed a free trade agreement (ChAFTA), with which the tariffs are expected to be reduced to zero within four years, many Australian lobster exporters have been ready to develop the Chinese market. According to the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China's imports of seafood have increased fivefold since ChAFTA came into force.
The lobster export from Western Australia has been on rise since 2017, accounting for 59% of the total value of Australia’s lobster exports this year, and it is more than twice the amount of New Zealand’s lobster exports. 6,300 tons of lobsters were caught in Western Australia in the past year, 98% of which (equivalent to the weight of more than 1,000 elephants) was airlifted to China.In 2018, with the continuous strong demand from the Chinese consumers, most Australian lobsters have been exported to China, while a small number of them were shipped to other countries like Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. According to Australia's large lobster distributors, this year's good weather, stable catch and strong demand from China have brought a "perfect start" to the fishing season. October's export was particularly high as a result of rising demand brought by a variety of wedding celebrations.
Starting from January 1, 2019, Australian shrimp and crab seafood will have zero tariffs. Lower distribution costs will make the price of Australian rock lobsters more "people-friendly". Traditionally, the Australian lobster market has been confined to three or four southern provinces around Hong Kong, China, as well as first-tier cities in China and Northern Vietnam. Now, with the innovation of the supply chain model of China's seafood industry, the popularity of e-commerce platforms and the development of offline warehousing, Australian lobsters begin to appear in China's second-tier, third-tier and inland city markets. With the continuous tariff reduction promoted by free bilateral trade between China and Australia, the volume of imported Australian lobster increases and the price becomes table, which benefits Chinese consumers and makes Australian lobsters more popular in the Chinese market.