Indulge Your Palette: Pacific Spiny Lobster Season is Here

By Troy Palmquist
Posted on October 1, 2017

The end of September marks the beginning of delectable delight for California’s Spiny Lobster lovers as divers, fishing enthusiasts and crustacean cooks prepare their plates and palettes for this rare treat.  The half year season opens for the recreational catching of Spiny Lobsters, otherwise known as ‘Spinies or bugs’ by many California locals. Best when caught or purchased as live lobsters, Spiny lobsters make up for their absence of sweet claw meat with a mouthwatering abundance of body and tail meat for a flavorful and fulfilling coastal delicacy. Roasted, steamed, boiled, grilled or even rolled into sushi, lobster is the catchall choice for fresh cuisine. There are few times in life when California Spiny lobster ceases to treat our taste buds to anything short of scrumptious taste and satisfied stomachs, so we’ve chosen to celebrate this lobster season opening with another fantastic recipe by renowned Chef Michael Lauket from the Hundred Acre Winery paired with the Cherry Tart Chardonnay.  


Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour | Serves 6-8 

Ingredients Part 1

  • Lobsters, live and in person! 4 (1.5 lb @)
  • Sea salt 1 cup

 Essential Tools:

  • XL stock pot with tight lid
  • Steam basket or colander
  • Mallet and/or kitchen shears
  • & Cherry Tart Chardonnay for chef consumption 

Ingredients Part 2

  • Saffron threads 2 tsp
  • Cherry Tart Chardonnay 2 cups
  • Olive oil, extra Virgin 4 Tbsp
  • Lobsters, steamed (from Part 1) 4
  • Tomato paste 2 Tbsp
  • Brandy or Cognac 1/2 cup
  • Garlic, rough chopped 2 Tbsp
  • Tarragon leaves, rough chopped 1 Tbsp
  • Italian parsley, rough chopped 1/4 cup
  • Serrano peppers, whole 4
  • Heavy cream 2 pints
  • Pancetta (cut into 1/4-inch lardons) 1/2 lb
  • Bucatini pasta 1 lb
  • Kosher salt 2 Tbsp
  • Espelette pepper 2 Tbsp
  • Butter, unsalted 2 Tbsp
  • Lobster Pasta

Part 1: Steaming the crustaceans

  • Place a steam basket, or inverted colander in the bottom of a stockpot large enough to hold the lobsters and with enough room for the steam to circulate. Pour in about 2 inches of cold water. Add the salt, cover, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the lobsters one at a time, cover the pot, and start the clock. As a rule of thumb, a 1 lb. lobster needs 10 minutes, 1 1/4 lb lobster needs 12 minutes, 1 1/2 lb lobster needs 14 minutes, and so on.
  • Halfway through the cooking time, remove the lid — cautious of the steam — and move the lobsters around to ensure even cooking. When time is up, transfer the lobsters to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cool enough to handle, twist off the tails and claws/knuckles. NOTE: Save the lobster bodies and shells for making the sauce. 

We also recommend using a pair of kitchen shears to slice the tails open. After you’ve won, pop the tail meat into the refrigerator as you take on the next steps…

Unless this is your first time seeing a lobster in person, it should be fairly straightforward that it’s Chef vs. Shell for the battle of the luscious meat. So via any means necessary—including wrapping the claws & knuckles in a towel and giving them a solid whack with a mallet—get that tasty meat out! Please be careful to keep the claw meat whole for decorative purposes. May we also recommend a dose of Cherry Tart Wine as lubrication for battle as we can fairly imagine that a good gargle with the vino helped the Roman army in their travails.


Part 2: The pasta finale

  • Put the saffron threads in 1/4 cup of the chardonnay to bloom.
  • Place a large heavy gauge stockpot over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Once hot, add the lobster bodies and shells. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring often. Then reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato paste. Mix well and cook for another 1 minute. Turn heat back to high and without igniting yourself into flames, deglaze with the brandy or cognac until evaporated, scraping any bits from the bottom. Add the chardonnay and reduce by half.
  • Add the garlic, tarragon, parsley, saffron (with the wine), serranos and heavy cream. Bring to a vigorous boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavor infuses into the cream, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally during the cooking process.
  • Pour through a fine mesh strainer, making sure to press down firmly on the solids in the strainer to ensure all liquids are captured. Discard the shells. Remove the serranos, mince them up, and reserve. (Refrigerate the sauce if you’re not going to use it immediately.) 
  • Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the other 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the pancetta. Render until golden and caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and reserve.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Season with salt and cook the pasta al dente!
  • While waiting for the pasta to cook, cut the lobster tails into bite size pieces. Reserve the smaller claw to use as garnish. 
  • Add the lobster cream sauce and Epaulette to the pancetta stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the lobster, pancetta, and serranos. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the water. Then return the pasta to the same pot. Place over medium-low heat and add the lobster sauce, stirring gently so as NOT to destroy the whole lobster claws. Cover and simmer until the pasta has absorbed the sauce, about 2-3 minutes. Check your seasonings and/or add the reserved pasta water if necessary.
  • Gently stir in the butter. Divide the pasta and sauce amongst serving plates. Make sure a lobster claw garnishes the top of each dish. Magnifico!


Three people clinking their wine glasses