Maine Lobsters in the Fish House

The other day, I went to the largest distributorship of Maine Lobsters on the West Coast, and toured the magnificent, home-depot sized facility.  The processing plant calls for its own on-site USDA Inspector to regulate the issh, carrying tight controls over the bacteria levels, the temperatures, and everything else that would improve the health and safety of the seafood from when its received, to the storage, to its delivery to other wholesalers or restaurants on the West Coast of USA.   The door to the USDA Inspector office was small, and the room had no windows, making me wonder what was inside that little office.  With deliveries bustling from midnight to midnight day after day, I wondered if the inspector lived there nestled between lobsters and seabass, with a yanagiba sheathed in his or her right ankle, slicing and sneaking a bite in the middle of the night?  If it were me, I would begin a smuggling ring – of monkfish livers…not to China.  I’d smuggle them in mah belly!


lower level of the facility

palettes of seafood

The distributor there Tifany is well connected in the Los Angeles restaurant scene and Facebooked me a few months back to ask for some duck confit, offering Maine lobsters in exchange.  They distribute to the wholesale distributors like IMP, Los Angeles Fish, Pacific Fresh Fish, and used to do the distribution of Stater Bros & Whole Foods (before they stopped carrying Nova Scotia lobsters due to seals being killed in that region.)  Stupid, really.  I got a glimpse of half the facility, and as I took a 4am leisurely stroll through the maze of styrofoam boxes filled with seafood, I stared at large containers of clams, dozen varietals of oysters, and fish ranging from whole Chilean Seabass to filleted sand dabs, and the site of the seafood palettes were exciting because of the possibilities – the palettes reached higher than those at Costco.


smocks and foams

After traveling through gargantuan 30-foot automatic motion sensored doors that opened and closed like some crazy last level of Super Mario Bros.  Useful foams sprayed automatically by machines onto the near freezing floor.  We finally reached the destination of lobster tanks that held large plastic bins of varying lobster sizes, from 1 1/4 pounds to 3-4 pound lobsters.  I never knew that there were two different claws on the Maine Lobsters as our Spinies out west don’t have claws.  The Right crusher claw has 150 pounds PSI of crushing strength, and the left side cutter claw approximately 10 pounds PSI.  I wonder if there are lefty lobsters?

At the end of the tour, I dropped off the 36 hour duck confit and bounced.  She told me if I wanted lobsters anytime, they would be available.  I have a few ideas in mind, and lately I’ve been craving simple lobster tartare (pounded between some sheets of plastic wrap), dressed simply with yuzu & badia a coltibuono olive oil and some salt.  maybe a few lobster dumplings, but it’s the simple things that when I bite into them are so Stupidly fucking good that make me Laugh and Smile like i’ve been reborn and everything I ever thought about food and life and the world gets flipped upside down in a good, fresh, new way. : )

Next week I’ll be making Lobster Dumplings and folding some lobster cream into the mix, a few lobster rolls for the road, some lobster gumbo, lobster fried rice, lobster jambalaya…

But really I want some surf and turf, anyone want to loan me a cow?

a few vidcaps from the visit:

the facility processes large quantities of fish, from farmed to penned, to truly wild

I’m all for sustainable use of our Earth’s resources, as long as top quality products can be produced.  And it’s satisfying to know that the Maine lobster fishery is extremely healthy!   Yipee kai-yay.

-E