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Lobster Night

2009/08/16
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Last week I was in Nova Scotia for work. It was my first trip to the province and I had a really nice time! I ate pretty well with the highlights being local seafood – lobster in particular. I’ll post a summary of eats later in the week. At the airport waiting to fly home, I was surprised to see a shop with tanks of lobster ready for packing and sale! Pretty good prices also, so I bought a couple of mammoth, almost three-pounders to carry back on the plane. Naturally that meant a lobster dinner on Saturday, and I decided to do two preparations – one steamed and the other grilled.

Lobster toted from Nova Scotia

Lobster toted from Nova Scotia

At the airport, the lobsters are taken out of the tank and boxed up with a bag of frozen peas and saltwater-soaked newspaper. They travel surprisingly well and I tossed the whole box in the fridge when I got home (having to take out a shelf in the process).

Lobster Waving!

Lobster Waving!

Say hi, lobster! Wave to all the blog readers! Look at the size of this guy. He was massive, with a healthy bit of tail meat. This was the first lobster so it’s ready for the steamer.

Lobster ready for the steamer

Lobster ready for the steamer

Ready to snip off the rubber bands before steaming. Rubber is not something tasty and I didn’t want it to taint the flavour of the lobster. Watch the claws though! If your finger gets caught in there it’s going to hurt. A lot.

Steamed lobster

Steamed lobster

Steamed lobster

Steamed lobster

Once the lobster was out of the steamer, it was ready for picking. I steamed it for 16 minutes, which is hindsight was a couple minutes too long. Next time I’ll stop at 13-14 minutes for a lobster of this size. When picking lobster I like to do it on a cutting board set inside a deep pan. This allows for any liquid that comes out of the lobster to be caught in the pan instead of running off the cutting board and all over the counter.

The arms get torn off first, then the tail from the body, all with a simple twist. Getting the meat out of the tail is easy – snip the tail fins with a pair of kitchen shears, then down the middle of the underside (not the shell side), snap the shell outward like you’re opening a book and take the tail meat out. You do need to devein the tail much like you would a shrimp, and a small cut down the middle of the tail is all that’s needed to get at it.

Separate the knuckle from the claw. Snap the small pincer of the claw and gently pull it away from the meat. To get the big part of the claw off, I use the back of a heavy chef’s knife. NOT the blade side. Holding the claw firmly (and perpendicular to the cutting board so the rounded part is up), whack the shell hard a couple times. If you catch it in the same spot and the flip it over to do the same on the other side, you should be able to snap the shell opening it like a Kinder Surprise capsule revealing the intact claw meat inside. Note that there is still a piece of cartilage in the claw meat, so it needs to be removed when eating.

I cut through the knuckle with a pair of shears – first the softer underside of the shell, then the other, harder side. The shell should separate easily revealing intact knuckle meat.

Finally, split the body in half to get at the small chunks of meat and the walking legs that are easy to snap and either poke out or suck out the meat.

Once all the picking is done, serve up the meat with drawn butter and a tasty beverage. I melted the butter with a couple whole cloves of garlic and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I prefer whole cloves because they are easily removed from the butter. I want the flavour of garlic, not massive chunks of it.

Steamed lobster

Steamed lobster

Having polished off the first lobster, it was time for round two. This time it was off to the grill. I like to split the lobster lengthwise and separate the arms before grilling. For a more humane kill, put the lobster in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to numb it. This also allows for an easier cut. Working with the lobster belly-down to the cutting board, hold the tail with one hand and place the tip of a sharp, heavy chef’s knife just behind the head of the lobster. Cutting away from the hand holding the lobster, in one fell swoop plunge the knife all the way through and then down through the middle of the head. This kills the lobster instantly. Any movement that persists is just the nerves twitching. Rotate the lobster 180 degrees and cut through the body and tail along the same line.  Twist the arms off, remove the rubber bands, and crack the outside of the claw shell in the same way mentioned above with the cooked, steamed claws. Season the tail and body meat with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Lobster ready to split

Lobster ready to split

Split lobster

Split lobster

Grill the lobster for 3-4 minutes. Claws, with the knuckles still attached at this point, need to go on the hotter part of the grill. Tail and body to the cooler part, flesh side down. Flip and continue grilling for a few more minutes but just until the meat is opaque and slightly firm to the touch. Liquid oozing from the cracked claws should be opaque and almost milky. Do not overcook or you will end up with rubbery lobster (eww). Just like any other piece of meat, there is carryover so factor that into your cooking time.

Lobster just off the grill

Lobster just off the grill

Remove the claw and knuckle meat in the same manner as with steamed lobster. Serve with more drawn butter and tasty beverages. Oh, and lots of napkins. Did I mention those earlier? No utensils other than your hands should be required!

Grilled lobster

Grilled lobster

I really enjoy grilled lobster. The smokiness from the grill gives another dimension of flavour to the rich, sweet lobster meat. In the future, I think all the lobster I cook will be grilled. Much better than steamed or boiled in my opinion.

2004 Petaluma Chardonnay
  • 2004 Petaluma Chardonnay – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills (5/14/2009)
    Pretty reticent nose initially showing lanolin/wax, a hint of honey sweetness, nuts. On the palate, unctuous in texture, but restrainted. Hazelnuts, spice, lanolin, honeycomb, dried orange peel out to a 30-35s nut-laden finish.

I opened a rich Chardonnay from Australia to pair with the lobster. My tasting notes from last night are similar to what’s above, except the nose was much more expressive from the beginning and there were canned pear notes from nose to finish. If you have any 2004s in the cellar, I encourage you to drink up because I don’t see the wine getting any better.

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