There is nothing that says summer more than a freshly caught lobster
Does anything say summer more than a freshly caught lobster, sizzling on a grill, with the air broken by the scent of hot shell and sweet ozoney fish?
Now is the time to make the most of this beautiful crustacean. Lobster should only ever be cooked and eaten the moment they die and therein lies the reason that most people don’t cook this wonderful seafood at home.
We’ll happily grill a piece of chicken or lamb that someone else has disposed of but then get a bit squeamish when you’re actually in on the act.
The RSPCA recommends freezing a live lobster for about 30 minutes before cooking. The cold will render the lobster catatonic. It can then be plunged into boiling water and the whole thing is done humanely.
A fishmonger will also do the needful for you by rapidly spearing the top of the head for a swift end. What better way to respect and appreciate food than to be in on this process? You won’t eat fresher or better food.
We’re blessed around the coast in Northern Ireland to be able to source lobster relatively easily. Go directly to any of the lobster boats in our harbours and ask them. Alternatively go to your nearest fishmonger or fish van. Most of the lobster from here was exported a few years ago but the influx of visitors and appreciation of it in the local market means most of it stays here.
When you have your lobster and it’s ready to be cooked, you should split it through the head and body with a sharp knife, and drizzle the flesh with olive oil. Crack the claws with a rolling pin and place shell side down on a hot barbecue and grill for about six minutes.
When the flesh is white, firm and translucent, it’s ready. Anoint with a little grilled lemon juice and brush with some melted butter. When you have something as supremely beautiful as this, there is no need to gild the lily with extravagant dressings or sauces. Have some bread to hand to mop up the juices.
To boil a lobster, place the lobster into boiling salted water. A 1kg lobster will take about 10 minutes to cook. Remove from the water and plunge into ice. Remove the claws first. As a young chef I was always taught to place the claws down on a board and crack with a rolling pin.
I was doing this in a kitchen a few years ago and the lobster fisher man arrived and told me I was doing it all wrong. Cradle the claw in your hand and tap gently.
It works a treat and you don’t get all that sharpnel and juice spurting everywhere! Remove the meat and then crack the tail meat like it’s a big prawn. Remove the flesh in one piece. Place the cooked lobster on a platter and serve with lemon and some homemade mayonnaise. Alternatively you can chop it, mix with some ketchup, mayonnaise, a little Tabasco and lemon and place in a buttered brioche bap for a classic lobster roll.
The shells should be roasted and then simmered with tomato, white wine and aromatic vegetables to make a delicious stock that can be used for sauce or soup.
Lobster and pasta is a good way of making a little go a long way. The shells go into the sauce and the meat is chopped and combined with pasta. For the recipe here I’m using linguine – the sauce seems to cling to it really well, but feel free to use any shape you like.
The other recipe is for a lobster cocktail – a lobster version of the perennial prawn one. The mayonnaise dressing is homemade and here I’ve used Broighter Gold hickory smoked oil in the mix with the addition of some horseradish and lemon. For the perfect summer vibe serve in a kitsch cocktail glass with some wheaten on the side.