25 August 2011


Cooked lobster

My dad was the anti-foodie. Almost every dish my mother ever served was a "B+". He would stroll away from the dinner table, not full. Food was merely fuel. The enjoyment at the dinner table was found in discussion and debate, not on the plate.

There was only one food I can remember that made him excited. In the 1950s, he spent time in the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia. It is there that he learned to love lobster. When he brought me there in 1989, he introduced me to one of the most fabulous sources of protein on earth.

I have spent as much as $40/pound to have the pleasure to cook lobster in some of my other homes. Imagine my surprise, then, to drive through southern Maine and see signs advertising $4/lb lobster. It turns out that those signs are teasers, to get 3 x 1.5 lb lobsters cost us $28. That's right, something a little more than $6 per pound. We suffer.

Lobster purveyor

My wife picked up three lobsters on a Wednesday at the Maine Lobster Outlet. So after work, I heated up two pots of water (one per lobster - we're in a sublet and don't have a big pot). Each pot had:
4 quarts water
8 tbsp salt
Alternatively, you can use fresh seawater if it's handy.

Bring to a rolling boil while you play with your lobsters.

Live lobster

When the water is boiling, pick up the lobsters. Some people like to make the lobsters sleepy by having them hang out in a fridge for a while. Not necessary. You just need to act swiftly, so the lobster doesn't have time to think about his impending doom. Open up the pot, pick up the lobster and hold him head (and claws) pointing down. Then swiftly move him over the pot and drop him in. If you hesitate, all is lost. The lobster will sense the heat, and recoil. You want to drop him in there head-first so that he is killed instantly and has no time to react. The benefit here is that this is more humane, and it's less disturbing and wiggly to try to get the lobster in the pot if you do it quickly.

Let the pot return to boiling. As soon as it does, start the clock (watch carefully, there's nothing more sad than an overcooked lobster). A 1 ½ lb lobster does well with about 11 minutes of full-on boil time. Really, don't overcook the lobster. Overcooked lobster is tough and bitter.

Remove the lobster from the boiling water at the end of your counter.

Cooked lobster

Let cool a few moments. Serve with a dish of melted butter. It's not a terrible idea to wear a raincoat while dismembering the lobster. There will be a mess, be forewarned. Dab the meat into the butter. And don't forget, the claws have the best meat. The knuckles, second best. And the tail has the most meat (though a bit tougher).

This is a simple way to make lobster, and in Massachusetts, it even makes sense on a Wednesday night. Ridiculous.

Lobster meat


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