Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 39 Issue 10 • July 9-15, 2009
now in our 39th season

Lobster Feasts

by Jenn Farmer
Sous Chef at Bartlett's Farm

An old friend came out to visit me this week. It was his first trip to Cape Cod, so I tried to give him a tour of the most important things to see in Nantucket.  We went to the museums, the light houses, and saw the old mill. We didn't forget about the night life, and enjoyed one great night on the town, enjoying good food, cocktails, and music.  Of course we didn't miss the beach either, we spent a day at Ladies Beach, it was sunny and the waves were bold as always.  It was a real treat. I often say there is just something special about the beach air here, it makes food taste more delicious.  After spending the entire day enjoying the salty ocean air, and the sunshine at the beach, there was only one thing left to do, eat a lobster roll.

Lobster rolls are probably one of the most popular summer foods on the island. Most people don't realize that there are two basic types of lobster roll, the creamy lobster salad style roll, and the hot buttery lobster roll.  The more popular lobster salad roll, is creamy, cool, and delicious.  Most restaurants have their own secret recipe for lobster salad, but it is almost always served on regular, white hot dog bun. I love to put lots of fresh herbs in my lobster salad, in addition to red onion, and crispy celery.  Lobster salad can be served on greens with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers instead of the roll for an elegant lunch or first course.

The second style of lobster roll is the more traditional hot lobster roll.  The lobster is cooked with a butter, and usually pretty simply with little or no seasonings. It is also served on the plain, white hot dog bun, but often the bun is toasted.  Everyone has their favorite lobster roll, and honestly I think they both have thier strong points, and one cannot go wrong with either sandwich.

Lobster is such a unique food.  It is a delicacy today, but that wasn't always the case. Lobster was actually considered food for the poor, or lower classes, until the mid-19th century in America. The American Lobster (Homarus Americanus), also known as the Massachusetts lobster, the Maine lobster, the Canadian lobster, or the North Atlantic lobster, is what we catch and eat here in Nantucket.  Many people believe cold water lobster is higher quality than other varieties of lobster. Most also believe it has sweeter meat than its close relative the spiny, or warm water lobster. Both types of lobster are delicious, but there is one difference that cannot be disputed, the warm water lobster have no claws, and none of the delicious claw meat .

I have frequently been asked the best way to cook a lobster, I am not certain to be honest. I believe it depends on what you like or what you are making. One of the most popular way is to boil them. To boil lobsters, fill a large pot or kettle with clean seawater, or salted water (about a quarter cup of salt per gallon) and bring it to a boil.  When the water boils, put in the live lobsters one at a time and bring the water a boil again. Cook them uncovered at a medium boil for about 8 minutes for 1 pound lobsters, and add one minute per quater pound after that. A two-pound lobster should take 15 minutes and a 3-pounder takes about 25 minutes cooking time. Soft shell or new shell lobsters take about 3 minutes less than the hard shelled. The best indicator of doneness are two-fold:  the color and the antennae. The shell should turn bright red, and the antennae will pull out with ease.  Some large lobsters may not be cooked all the way when the shell turns red, so check to see if the meat is white and not translucent. When the lobster is done, let it rest for 5 minutes or so after cooking to allow the meat to absorb some of the moisture, and prevent getting burns from the hot juices flowing out of the lobster shell.

To open a lobster, take the time to prepare ahead. Make certain you have claw or nut crackers, a pick or narrow long fork, a heavy knife, and a bib or apron, a kitchen towel. Twist off the claws, then crack the knuckles and extract the meat. Remove the tail from the body, if you are making it into salad, you can even carefully split the tail with a heavy knife, then extract the meat. Remove the dark mud vein from the tail meat before chopping it. If you are very patient you may use the picks to remove the remaining meat from the legs.

Lobster Salad Roll

  • 1 pound cooked lobster, picked over for shells and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil,chervil, or tarragon
  • 2 Tablespoon small diced red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons small diced celery
  • 1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • To taste, sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hot dog rolls (or your favorite bread, I like to use brioche since it is so rich and buttery)

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chopped fresh herbs, and fresh lemon juice. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Fold the dressing into the lobster meat, onions and celery, taste and serve on toasted rolls. Enjoy!  Serves 4

Hot Lobster Roll

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 pound cooked lobster, picked over for shells and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 hot dog or dinner rolls
  • To taste, salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons, mayonnaise
  • chopped chives, for garnish

Cut cold butter into small 1-inch cubes. Bring one Tablespoon water to a firm simmer in a small sauté pan. Using a wire whisk, whisk in one or two cubes of butter at a time until all is incorporated. This should create a thick creamy liquid called beurré monté (the idea being to have melted butter that does not separate). Season the butter mixture with salt and pepper. Place the lobster meat in the beurre to warm slowly. Toast the rolls. Remove the lobster from the beurré and shake off the excess butter. Place the lobster in the roll, add a dab of mayonnaise on top each roll, and garnish with chopped chives. Enjoy immediately.  Serves 4

Lobster rolls are great, but I love to enjoy lobster prepared in a spicy manner.  Curry is also one of my favorite flavors. I found out that lobster and curry compliment each other very well. Here is a recipe I sometimes make, and it is always a big hit.  It goes very well with a nice green salad with some green papaya, a crispy glass of white wine, and some crusty french baguette. What a great meal and so simple too.

Curried Lobster Stew

  • 4 T Butter
  • 1 cup Potato, medium diced
  • 1 cup Onion, medium diced
  • 1 cup Celery, medium diced
  • 1 cup Carrot, medium diced
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 T Green or Red Curry Paste
  • 1 cup Water, or lobster stock
  • 2 c Lobster meat
  • Salt & pepper

Heat butter in a soup pot, then saute the diced onions, until they are translucent. Add potatoes, celery and carrots to the onions. Add the coconut milk and the water, or lobster stock, and bring to a simmer. Add the curry paste and cook mixture until the vegetables are tender, then remove from heat and add the lobster meat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.  Serves 4-6.

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