Give Me Squat Lobsters, or Give Me Death!

Can you eat Squat Lobsters?

I have a feeling that this is going to turn into a longer post. I have multiple photos! But this isn’t going to turn into any self-discovering rambling whiner of a post, oh no. This is for the good of the people.

I went out fishing with my dad, my fiancé, and his son this weekend. The story about “fishing” with my dad is a topic for another day. And then the story about his boat (aka the fancy lawn ornament that’s afraid of water) is good for a few weeks worth of material. But today we talk about squat lobsters.

After a tremendous morning of fishing where we caught:

  • A baby flat fish
  • A sea urchin

We went to check the prawn traps. Instead of prawns we found these beasties.

Hundreds, and hundreds of these beatsies. I quickly identified them as squat lobsters. I might be a girl, I might not be strong enough to pull up the traps, I might not even eat seafood, but I’m a master on the Google. Hah. Ok, and I also happen to work at an aquarium.

We were in the process of throwing them back in the water when my fiancé stopped us.

“You know, those look edible.” I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s of the belief that everything is edible. He enjoys going to Japanese restaurants and asking the chefs to make their most exotic sushi. He eats my cooking. He’s quite, quite, daring. It worries me.

I googled my little heart out trying to find if anybody could speak to eating them. What I did find out was that:

  1. Squat lobsters of certain varieties are edible, and they call them Langostino Lobsters.  Apparently  this name is much more dramatic and sexy than squat. And we want sexy food. These are not the varieties we caught.
  2. There was drama in the US of A about Long John Silvers calling squat  langostino lobsters “lobsters” as they’re more like hermit crabs (sick) and aren’t technically lobsters.
  3. The Squat Lobsters found in Saanich Inlet are technically named Munida quadrispina but nobody actually calls them that.
  4. There are a few brief mentions on fishing forums from people who ate squat lobsters from Pat Bay just for funsies, but couldn’t really recommend them based on taste. I assumed to be of the Munida quadrispina variety. But who knows? It was impossible to find out if you could eat these things and live to see another day.

With that, my iPhone died. I watched my fiancé and his son as they picked out the biggest of them from the traps,  threw them into the bucket, and I wondered if now was a good time to talk to him about including me in his will. Did you see that photo? They’re gross. And cute. That sounded like the perfect combination of mayhem to harbour unidentified seafood viruses.

We got home, showed the lobsters to the dogs (who were rightfully terrified), and my man got to work. They boiled salted water on the BBQ (no way were they coming into the house), dumped in the beasties, and cooked them until they were done. I can’t give any specifics on timing, and what defines “done”; I was too busy watching from a distance. They smelled gross and his son had chased me around with one of the critters. I was out.

They cracked off the heads, dug around a little bit to find the meat, ate it, and declared it delicious. They got the meat retrieval down to a science, broke out a bottle of Tabasco sauce and has a feast. Sometimes there was a little poo to clean off, but apparently that’s the price you pay with seafood. Yup. Squat lobster poo. Yet I’m the weird one for not eating seafood.

They ate dozens of them, convinced my neighbor and my dad to partake, and everybody is still alive.

So there you have it. Next time you’re fishing around Victoria and instead of prawns you pull up buckets of crabs with tails tucked under their tummies and giant snappers, don’t throw them back! Squat lobsters are edible. They’re a bit of work, but no more than crabs. They apparently taste like crabs. I recommend cooking and eating them outside because they smell like crabs. I recommend making the one you love brush their teeth, floss, gargle with mouthwash and eating something else before letting them kiss you – especially if you’re disgusted by the thought of crabs.

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