Seafood is expensive. There’s no way around it. The methods fishermen need to use to catch seafood is one of the reasons the prices of lobster, fish, and other seafood favorites are more than beef or chicken. However, some of the most expensive seafood may shock you with their prices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options too. This guide compares some of the most expensive seafood and affordable seafood options, along with sharing tips to help you save on the seafood you want to buy.
What Is the Most Expensive Seafood?
Bluefin tuna is known for being the most expensive seafood in the world. Back in 2013, someone in Tokyo, Japan, bought an almost 500-pound bluefin tuna at an auction for $1.76 million. Of course, that was for the whole fish, but that still works out to almost $3,600 per pound of fish. More recently, a sushi chain restaurant owner bought an over 600-pound bluefin tuna for $333.6 million.
And you can expect to pay a hefty price if you ordered bluefin tuna at a restaurant. One of the reasons the fish is so expensive is because its population has decreased so much from overfishing, putting the species on the endangered list. Because it’s a sought-after fish used in sushi, the supply-and-demand drives prices up significantly.
Bluefin tuna isn’t the same kind that most people are familiar with. The canned version is usually albacore tuna, which is much more populous than bluefin tuna. Being smaller, it reaches maturity much quicker than a bluefin.
Other Pricey Seafood Options
Pacific bluefin tuna certainly isn’t the only seafood that might hit your wallet a bit harder than others. Seafood, in general, can be pricey. Here are some other high-priced options:
There are many forms of caviar (i.e., unfertilized fish eggs) in the world, and some are much more expensive than others. Caviar from an albino sturgeon, for example, has been known to sell for 100,000 euros (almost $119,000) for about two pounds. It’s dusted with edible gold to boost its luxury appeal, helping to make it one of the most expensive food options.
And then there’s almas caviar, which is known to be one of the most expensive, selling easily for £20,000. Other caviar isn’t quite as pricey, but still takes the cake as some of the most expensive seafood. Expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $500 or more for a single ounce of caviar.
Pufferfish might be poisonous, but that doesn’t stop chefs in Japan from making it a luxury delicacy on their menus. The puffer fish that seems to be most heralded in Japanese culture is the tiger puffer fish, which is what you’ll probably find if you head to a luxury restaurant there.
Travel to Spain, and you might find baby eel on the tasting menu — and you can expect to pay a hefty price for it. In some spots, you might pay as much as 1,000 euros per kilo for some baby eels. Many admit that baby eels don’t have a very intense flavor, which is why they’re often cooked with spices to kick up the flavor. The reason for their high prices is that catching them requires a small window of time, during which conditions are just right for the perfect harvest.
Abalone is an aquatic snail that many see as a delicacy from the sea, especially in Asian culture. It’s not uncommon to see people feasting on abalone during Chinese New Year celebrations. The price for these sea creatures continues to soar, as restrictions have been placed on fishing them in an effort to prevent overfishing and possible extinction.
It’s hard to find seafood lovers who don’t love a good, juicy lobster. Here at Maine Lobster House, we obviously do! But, we’d be dishonest if we said that lobster wasn’t expensive. Interestingly, lobster used to be thought of as a poor man’s food. Today, it’s considered somewhat of a luxury, especially when you order it from a restaurant.
The price of lobster fluctuates with supply and demand. But year after year, the demand has been hefty, so lobster fishermen are always trying to keep up with it while adhering to harvesting rules and regulations.
Buying live lobster isn’t usually as expensive as it is ordering a lobster dish at a restaurant. It takes time to prepare a lobster for a meal, so you’ll end up paying for that preparation too. Thankfully, not all lobster dishes are as expensive as the “zillion dollar lobster frittata,” which sells for $2,000.
To save some money on lobster, make it at home instead. You can order live lobster to your door from Maine Lobster House. Prepare it whatever way you like best, and enjoy it from the comfort of your dining table.
Many types of crab are pricey, including snow crab, blue crab, and stone crab. But king crab is one that you’ll probably spend a lot of money on. Why? It’s mostly due to how difficult they are to harvest. Fishermen have a very short season during which to harvest them, and fishing conditions are tumultuous, to say the least. That combined with how in-demand king crab is makes it quite an expensive seafood option.
More Affordable Seafood Options
Don’t want to spend a fortune on seafood? Here are some options that are better for your bank account:
Mussels are populated and rather easy to harvest compared to other seafood, so the price per pound of them is much lower than other seafood and shellfish. You can prepare them in many of the same ways as you would clams, and their versatile meat won’t taste too much different (although, possibly, a little tougher).
Clams are another affordable option, although you can expect to pay more per pound for them than you would mussels. Clams are slightly more difficult to catch than mussels, which could account for the higher price tag. Still, for most clams, you won’t be paying more than $10/pound.
Flaky White Fish
There are lots of fish in the sea, but some of the cheapest are those with white, flaky flesh. Think: tilapia, whiting, and pollock. They taste similar to some more expensive varieties, like sea bass and halibut, but they’ll cost a fraction of the price. When you’re craving fresh fish on a modest budget, consider one of these lower-priced options.
Shrimp is costlier than some fish, but as for shellfish, it’s relatively inexpensive — especially if you buy it frozen rather than fresh. And, the smaller the shrimp, the less you’ll pay. If you’re making a chowder or soup with shrimp, the little ones work well, and you can save a lot of money on your seafood dish.
Usually, going frozen will get you more seafood for your dollar. That’s because frozen seafood lasts much longer than fresh seafood, so there’s a lower risk of supermarkets needing to toss it at the end of the day if it hasn’t been sold. Always compare prices between fresh and frozen fish and seafood before buying; it’s likely that frozen will get you a lower price.
Saving Money on Seafood
Seafood is, in general, expensive. Most seafood is very seasonal, so buying it outside of its usual season can be even pricier. One way to save money on seafood is to think of it more as an addition to a meal rather than the main part of the meal. For example, when you add shrimp to pasta, you’re still getting shrimp, but with the addition of filling pasta that creates a meal. You’ll spend much less buying shrimp to stir into pasta than you would if you just wanted to eat a whole plate of shrimp.
You can also buy seafood online. Maine Lobster House has shellfish, live lobsters, fish, and more, that come flash-frozen to avoid any potential spoilage on the way to your home. Each product has a detailed description, so you’ll know exactly what your money is buying. Don’t forget to sign up for our loyalty rewards program to earn points toward future seafood purchases.