Cooking with Lobsters
Now that we have an almost-steady supply of lobsters coming from our five traps in front of SeaCat’s Rest our challenge has been to try all the various way of cooking them. The starting point is the old standby of boiling or steaming and simply eating out of the shell, but this can get messy and makes it hard to have other foods along with it. To do this extraction in the kitchen allows more varied combination with other ingredients. And let’s face it, even something as exotic as Maine lobster can get tiresome if only cooked in one way.
My friend Prof. Jim has paid a visit every year in summer since time immemorial and has bugged me mercilessly to get my lobster license. He and I create culinary masterpieces involving local ingredients and ethnically warped techniques, so lobsters were an important goal. So far this visit we have indulged in lobster and cabbage tacos, peekytoe crab cauliflower soup, lobster thermidor, lobster ravioli with garlic cognac sauce and lobster spring rolls. During one night of a lobster drought we had to settle for Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, but that’s off topic.
A old standby has been lobster bisque. I blogged about it here. It’s a good first step away from boiled lobster and like the others, a good way to stretch your lobster dollar. The lobster tacos were pretty simple, just boil and cut up the meat into small chunks and top with a blended sour cream, garlic and jalapeño sauce, with the usual taco vegetables on a flour or corn tortilla. I’ll save the crab recipe for another post.
Now we get to the lobster thermidor, a major star in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The important first step is to make an herb and wine stew to steam the lobster with. This steam stew is later strained and reduced into an awesome cream sauce which is combined with chunks of lobster meat and mushrooms cooked in butter and cognac. We opted out of the recipe’s tomalley (lobster liver) inclusion on the advice of the US Food and Drug Administration. The whole assembly is loaded into lenghtwise-split lobster shells and topped with parmesan cheese for a final broiling in the oven.
I don’t want to reprint the recipe here since there are so many on the web, like here. I can report that the result was a big hit and has the SeaCat seal of approval!
If the thermidor was guilty indulgence, the ravioli was no penance. In fact, we made 24 pasta packets containing 4 lobsters, so a six ravioli serving was a whole lobster! Making the pasta was a big part of the fun. Jim brought a crank pasta roller with him and we motorized it by hacking a bread machine. The finished product looked like something
out of the steam era, but it did work. The filling was crafted with sauteed onions, garlic, parsley, basil, an egg and bread crumbs and of course the meat from four lobsters. The sauce was another seat-of-the-pants cognac cream and scant tomato paste creation. The ravioli was boiled until it floated, drained and presented with a little sauce on top. Ooolala!
Finally we made some lobster spring rolls on our final lobster indulgence night. Lightly pickled vegetables, rice noodles, hoisin sauce, diced lobster meat, whole basil leaves and some killer chile sauce mixed with sesame oil and Thai fish sauce. Ahhh, summer in Maine!