Crayfish (West Coast Rock Lobster) is one of the most desirable seafood in the Cape. This melt-in-the-mouth delicacy was once very cheap in the Cape but is now referred to in the markets as ‘Diamonds and Gold’ or ‘Red Gold’ because its shell glistens a vibrant red when cooked.
High export demand means that even local restaurateurs are forced to take their chances on availability and pay inflated prices. Price alone however, cannot keep a lobster-lover from enjoying their favourite meal. Have it cold with creamy fresh mayonnaise, grilled with garlic or lemon butter or baked in a cream and sherry sauce sprinkled with a touch of parmesan. Cape Grace Executive Chef Malika van Reenen says you can’t go wrong if you keep it simple when it comes to the sweet delicate meat of crayfish and loves it in a marie-rose sauce with avocado and a fresh roll.
The crayfish catching season opened on 15 November 2010 and runs through 25 April 2011. A permit is required to catch them and anyone can buy one, but there are limitations as to when, where and how you may catch your quota of four lobsters a day, with a minimum size carapace of 80mm. Permits are obtainable costing R87, from Post Offices or the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department customer services centre at the Foretrust Building on Cape Town’s Foreshore.
If catching your own makes it taste better, hire a boat and skipper in Hout Bay and head off towards a crayfish hot spot. The best locations are off the rocky shores towards Cape Point which can get a little choppy to say the least. If you have a tendency for being seasick, save yourself the discomfort and take a leisurely walk over to Snoekies Fish Market at the end of the Hout Bay docks and buy a couple of fresh crayfish, currently sold at around R285/kilo live or R200/kilo frozen.