Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Margie's Kitchen In Boston: How To Prepare Lobster

Roadside lobster shacks were common 20 years ago driving north on Route 1 in Maine. Now you rarely see any on a drive “Down East”. There is one establishment in Wiscasset (past Bath, Maine) at the base of the bridge that crosses the tidal river. In a netted bag, they boil a lobster, egg, potato, and corn on the cob, and then they serve the boiled dinner on a paper plate with a cup of melted butter. You need a hot shower when you’re all finished.

Just a word of advice: if you want a refined way to cook and eat lobster, I would suggest you prepare another entrée. But if you are up for the challenge, the Yankee Magazine’s More Great New England Recipes is you best guide. Published in 1985, the expert at the time was a woman named Bertha Nunan. She recommends a steamed approach using only 2 inches of water and it doesn’t vary by the number of lobsters or the size of the pot. No specific pot size is suggested but I use a 10 quart (8 inch high) pot that I only use for cooking lobster. I can fit four 1 pound lobsters in the pot.

Bring the water to a boil and then sprinkle in a quantity of salt. Bertha’s recipe doesn’t specify any particular type of measurement, just sprinkling three times around the pot, plus 3 teaspoons (page 98). Essentially, you want to create the same salt level as ocean water. I’ve seen other recipes that use 1/3 cup for 1 ½ gallons of water. I compromise and use 1.5-2 tablespoons and the 2 inch water level. When the water is boiling add lobster (head first), cover and steam for precisely 20 minutes. Bertha suggests serving it with melted butter and vinegar. Just a quick note, the lid of my pot has never been kicked off by a lobster; however they do make a scratching noise with their tails which might disturb some folks. Putting them in the freezer for a couple minutes numbs them, but frankly who wants to have their freezer smell like lobster.
Eating the lobster requires utensils (nutcrackers, picks or shrimp forks) and large bowls for disposing waste. I would suggest looking at the link which provides detailed instructions on how to eat a lobster. I serve lobster with home made cornbread and a gelatin-based fruit salad.


1 comment:

  1. I totally enjoyed reading your article on lobster prep which left me smiling, cringing and feeling well prepared to take on the challenge of tackling a lobster (although I have to admit, there is not a chance that I will actually ever do it:-) .


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