Springtime Lobster

Lobsters are most often considered gourmet eating. But there is a shift in taste and practice from years past. Lobsters were not considered to be a special culinary treat but rather an undesirable food that was fed to prisoners at the Boston County Jail. Lobsters were so plentiful they could be hand-picked on the beaches of Boston. Today 80% of the US lobster catch are caught by Maine Lobster boats. That’s a $1.5 Billion benefit to the Maine economy, plus providing about $500 million gross income to 4500 Maine Lobstermen (and Lobsterwomen).

This lobster crustacean is still considered to be a special treat, but not by everyone. The growth of vegetarian eating and other non-meat-eating devotees see eating lobsters as unethical. Some are not vegans but simply object to dropping a live creature into boiling water. Some lobsters, called “slippers’, have grown in popularity in warm waters. Slippers do not have meat in their legs or claws, only in their tails. “Spiny lobsters”, in contrast, do have claws, legs and tails with meat and are found in the cold waters of New England and throughout the North Atlantic.

My father-in-law loved eating lobster and giving dinner parties that involved teaching how to eat Spiny lobster. Those who acquired the skill in one sitting were thought to be very talented. Those who failed the test, were told they would have to try again another day.

There are several ways to prepare lobsters, depending on your tastes or preferences. Sometimes using more than one method is recommended as is done in today’s Lobster Recipe. Here are a few key ingredients for some of the more popular methods you can try out:

Lobster Bisque:

Ingredients

  1. 2 gallons of water;
  2. 2 live lobsters for a party of two;
  3. 1 tbsp. butter;
  4. 1/3 cup cognac;
  5. 2 chopped shallots; 
  6. 2 garlics diced
  7. 1/3 cup tomato paste;
  8. 1/2 oz. tarragon;
  9. 1/2 oz thyme;
  10. red pepper flakes;
  11. bay leaves;
  12. flour;

After boiling or steaming the lobster (as below), add the above ingredients to diced lobster meat to for a lobster bisque sauce to soup recipe.

This version is very rich and filling but also very delicious.

Lobster Roll:

Once the lobster is cooked, a lobster roll is served cold using 2 whole lobsters by cutting vertically through the tail, while removing the head (scissors work well to cut through the shell).

Create such a “sandwich” using the following ingredients:

  1. 1/4 c mayonnaise;
  2. 1/4 cup of celery;
  3. 2 tbsp. lemon juice;
  4. 2 tbsp. diced chives;
  5. a small pinch of kosher salt;

Cole slaw is a popular accompaniment.

Boiled or Steamed lobster:

Ingredients:

Squeeze in lemon juice from two lemons into a pot with 3-4 quarts.of water. Add 2 Tbls. salt.  Bring to a full boil. Place the two lobsters in the pot of boiling water. Maintain a full boil for 12-14 minutes. Once the live lobsters are dropped into the pot of boiling water, they are instantly killed which is considered a better method than placing them in the pot while it comes to a boil (which kills them slowly).  Some simply cut off the head before dropping them into the pot, instantly killing them as you might do with a fish.

The lobsters will become red all over after 10 minutes. You can steam them as well and wait for lobsters to turn red after steaming or boiling. You can then begin to season with soy sauce, 4 diced garlic cloves for each lobster. Or, follow the Recipe of the day, below. You can add 1-2 more lobsters, to the pot. This is great as you may have room to eat more lobster than you thought possible.

Recipe of the Day: Broiled Springtime Lobster

Ingredients                  

  1. White Pepper to taste;
  2. 1 Cup butter;
  3. 1/2 cup brandy;
  4. 1/4 cup lobster stock;
  5. 1/4 tsp lemon juice;

Directions

1-Preheat the broiler. Lay the Lobsters belly side down. With a large heavy knife, split them in half vertically (scissors work well for this). Pull out and discard the tomalley and intestines. Pull out the “coral” and place inside the shell, beside the tail meat. [“Coral”is the deep red roe or egg sac when raw. It turns a coral pink in color when cooked. This is the roe or egg sac found only in the female. They are considered a delicacy and are also often added to sauces].

2- Season your lobsters with salt and pepper and lay a slice of butter over them. Broil until the butter melts- about 2 minutes.

3. Pour the brandy over the lobster meat. Broil until the lobsters are cooked through, about 10 minutes more, spooning the liquid over the lobster tail and claws.

4. Place on two large plates.

5- While the lobster is cooking, Bring the lobster stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. After the lobster is cooked, slowly drizzle in the liquid from the roasting pan. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste. Strain through a fine meat sieve and spoon over the lobsters and around the plates. Serve quickly, so it doesn’t get cold.

If you don’t think you would like lobster, but haven’t tried it, these recipes will make you a lobster lover and the State of Maine will be very thankful.

Eating lobster during this pandemic will help the families to survive, that catch and distribute lobsters, so we can all enjoy them in the future. Lobsters can be ordered online and shipped live to your home. Often they are also available live in our local markets. In most supermarkets you can usually purchase cooked lobster meat and frozen lobster tails. After thawing, cook as above.

Send questions or your favorite recipes directly to  azox@zoxkitchen.com I look forward to hearing from you. Chef Alan

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