Swedish Lobster

Svensk hummer

Two lobsters on top of a lobster pot
Photo: Göran Assner/vastsverige.com

Black Gold, as Swedish lobster is often called, is caught off the west coast of Sweden. The lobster is said to be amongst the best in the world as a result of maturing slowly in the cold water which gives a delicate sweet taste and avoids it becoming too tough. Sadly it is priced accordingly!

Lobster season

A female lobster held by a brave fisherman
Photo: Jonas Ingman/vastsverige.com

Unlike in the UK where there is no closed season, in Sweden lobsters can only be caught between the first Monday after September 20th and April 30th.

Crazy prices!

The first lobsters of a new season are auctioned off in Gothenburg at 7.30 am sharp on the first Tuesday after September 20th. Invariably they are sold for crazy amounts.

According to Göteborgs-Posten the first lobster sold in 2015 went for 10,400 SEK per kg (£807 per kg, €1,112 per kg, $563 per lb)! It was bought by a fishmonger, Martin Magnusson. "I'm very pleased and it was an okay price for the first lobster", said Mats.

In 2011 the price exceeded over 100,000 SEK per kg! "It is not funny when it runs away and becomes fantasy totals," explained Mats. 

After the first lobsters have been auctioned off the price falls to more tolerable levels, but still more than twice the cost of British lobster.

Is it worth it?

Visually Swedish lobster looks quite different, being redder and fatter than British lobster. However, on a blind-test I wouldn't be able to distinquish the two. I know at least one chef at major fish restaurant in Sweden who agrees with me, although very experienced Swedish chefs can probably tell the difference. For most of us, Swedish lobster isn't really worth the price premium.

Lobster safaris

Passengers on a shellfish safari
Photo: Henrik Trygg

If your budget runs to Black Gold you might enjoy a “lobster safari”. They begin on the first Tuesday after September 20th and normally continue throughout the rest of September and October. A safari provides the opportunity for participants to venture out to sea and help with hauling up lobster pots. You can then pick your lobster and take it back to your hotel for a chef to cook it for you. For further details of companies organising lobster safaris click here.

The west coast of Sweden

Lobster on Sydkoster
Photo: Hotel Koster

Even if you don't go on a lobster Safari I do recommend visiting the west coast of Sweden. It is probably my favourite region in Sweden during the long summer days.

Two beers on a table overlooking the coast on Sydkoster
Photo: Hotel Koster

One of the nicest places to visit on the west coast is the wonderful peaceful island of Sydkoster, which is near Strömstad on the top end, near the border with Norway. The island is almost traffic free and has a lovely tranquillity about it. The weather on Sydkoster is also said to be very good, as it enjoys more sunshine than anywhere else in Sweden. The biggest and best hotel on the island is Hotell Koster (for details click here).

Lobster in Stockholm

Cooked Swedish lobster for sale in a market in Stockholm

If you can't get to the west coast of Sweden then I recommend Lisa Elmqvist Fisk in Östermalms Saluhall (Stockholm's posh indoor food market). They have a good selection of Canadian, Norwegian and Swedish lobster to take away or to eat in their popular smart café (booking recommended). The Swedish lobster is easy to recognise as it is the reddest and most expensive!

Lisa's is not open in the evening so if you would like to try lobster for dinner I recommend Wedholms Fisk down by the quay side. It is an expensive and rather old fashioned formal restaurant, but the quality of the fish is top-notch.

Cooking lobster

Cooked lobster outside Hotel Koster
Photo: Hotel Koster

There can be few finer treats than simply cooked lobster. Of course, you can buy ready cooked lobster, but if you can bring yourself to cook it you know that you have got really fresh lobster and cooked exactly as you want it, so it is worth making the effort.

There are two main ways: boiling in plain salted water or cooking in a flavoured court-bouillon. Both are good. The important thing is to get the timing right. Under-cooked lobster really doesn't taste very nice, but if it is over-cooked it becomes rubbery. More…

Grilled lobster

Lobster ready to be grilled

If you like warm lobster then consider grilling it. Although very simple I think it is one of the best ways of enjoying lobster. More…

Lobster soup

A bowl of lobster soup garnished with dill toast

Hummersoppa (lobster soup) is regarded as the king of soups in Sweden. It is also a superb way of using up left over lobster shells! Our recipe was given to us by Johan Sköld, the Head Chef at Hotell Koster, and really is a wonderful rich and flavoursome soup.

For a special occasion, garnish it with some fresh lobster to make a sumptuous starter or a luxurious light lunch. In Sweden, this is one of the most popular ways of enjoying lobster in the autumn. More…

Black gold cocktail

Lobster cocktails garnished with asparagus spears

I've never seen the famous Black Gold for sale in the UK! Nonetheless, if I make a lobster cocktail for a special occasion I always tell people about Black Gold, even if I am using English lobster! More…

Buying lobster in the UK

Cooked Sussex lobster for sale on Borough Market in London

Of course, even British lobster is expensive, but occasionally I think I deserve a treat! If you live near London I recommend popping along to Borough Market and buying some English lobster from Paul, who runs Sussex Fish. They catch their lobster off the Sussex coast and although it is still expensive (usually they are £15 each), it is ideal for a special occasion.

If you are not too squeamish and you would like to cook your own I recommend Furness Fish and Game, also at Borough Market. They have live lobsters from the Shetlands where the water is also cold and so the lobsters mature slowly. I think they taste as good as Swedish lobsters and they are a lot easier on your pocket!

Alternatively, there are a number of good online suppliers. Expect to pay around £30 per kg plus delivery for top quality lobsters, either live or ready-cooked.

John Duxbury

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