The Santa Barbara County wine region is a chef’s delight – its fertile farms and vineyards produce some of the best produce and wine grapes in the state of California, and its ranches are home to herds of prized beef cattle, lamb, and other would-be proteins. Ingredients arrive at restaurant doors fresh from the fields, farms, and coastal waters, many of those picked or caught just hours before being plated. Often, menus at local eateries are determined by what lands in chefs’ kitchens on any given day, especially when it comes to special menu items which are usually short-lived, due to weather or season. Dishes such as these, should be ordered when available and offered.
The Pacific waters located just minutes from the wine region are teeming with numerous varieties of fish and seafood, including the sought-after delicacy of Santa Barbara uni. A short trip to the north of Santa Barbara, Morro Bay is a veritable treasure chest for other saltwater luxuries, such as the spiny lobster utilized in this dish.
A Santa Barbara County wine country culinary creation, “Dynamite Lobster” entails poached fresh, local spiny lobster served with Purple Hotchi uni, shaved truffles, and a “Dynamite Sauce” including uni and spiny lobster roe. The dish exemplifies the use of locally-sourced seafood, with Morro Bay spiny lobster sourced from Giovanni’s Fish Market on California’s Central Coast, and Purple Hotchi uni from The Cultured Abalone Farm in Santa Barbara.
Fresh local spiny lobster
Purple Hotchi uni
Spiny lobster roe
House-made fresno chili sriracha
Poach the spiny lobster for 8 minutes. Keeping the lobster intact, cut open the shell to remove the meat. On a wood fire grill, cook the tail over medium heat for two minutes. Slice and re-stuff the lobster shell with the grilled meat.
For the sauce: place 1 cup aioli, 1 tablespoon sriracha and 1 sea urchin into a blender, and blend. Sprinkle with chives, spoon dynamite sauce over the lobster, torch, and then sprinkle with shaved truffle.
The dish serves 2 people.
Thank you to Chef Cullen Campbell from The Tavern at Zaca Creek for the recipe.