Fresh lobster: A summer staple
Wild Edibles executive chef Paul Jambor prepares a lobster. Credit: Deidre Schoo
Special to amNewYork
Summer in New England is all about seafood, and on the Maine coast, lobstermen are gearing up for peak season, which runs from August through September. With lobster prices relatively low, from $12.99 a pound, its the perfect time to bring a little bit of the coast to your New York City table. Heres a primer on this prehistoric-looking crustacean.
Low-calorie protein source
Lobster is a versatile and nutritious protein source, without a lot of calories, said Linda Bean, owner of the Port Clyde Lobster Company and the founder of a frozen seafood line Linda Beans Perfect Maine (and a Bean of the L.L. Bean order).
A pound of lobster only has about 425 calories, Bean said.
Bean recommended asking for a lobster that is one- or two-pounds in weight. Lobsters should be purchased while still alive, preferably on the day they will be eaten. There shouldn't be any appendages missing.
The key to a succulent lobster is all in the cooking, Bean said. If you overcook this crustacean, it can become tough. The main thing is not to over do it.
The most traditional methods of cooking lobsters are boiling or steaming. Boil lightly salted water in your largest pot (either a few inches, if steaming, or a full pot). Holding the lobster at the base of its head, drop it, alive, into the pot, standing back from the pot to avoid being splashed. Cook for eight to 14 minutes, or until the shells have changed from mottled brown to bright red.
Grilling is also an option. Chefs from Legal SeaFoods give this advice: parboil the lobster for 5-7 minutes. Split it in half lengthwise, cutting from head to tail. Remove the claws at their base with a knife and baste the exposed meat with a mixture of butter, lemon and garlic. Place the body of the lobster on the grill, meat side down, for about 10 minutes. The claws will take longer, so place them on the hottest part of the grill for about 15 minutes.On The Side
The last thing you want to do is pair the lobster with side dishes that overwhelm its rich but subtle flavor. Bean recommends asparagus, artichoke or green beans, as well as the traditional corn-on-the-cob.
At Wild Edibles Restaurant and Market in Murray Hill, executive chef Paul Jambor pairs the rich flavor of the lobster with drawn butter, also called clarified butter, for dipping an a simple green salad.
Jambor recommends a light, crisp Riesling, a California-style Chardonnay, nice and buttery, or even a beer such as a Hefeweizen to accompany your lobster dinner.
Bib or No Bib?
Cracking into your lobster dinner can be a messy affair, but its all part of the fun. Once youre at the table, twist the claws off the lobster at their base and break the tail from its body. Using a nutcracker, crack the shell of the lobster and pull out the meat with your fork (you can also split the underside of the tail with a knife). The claw meat is the sweetest. Female lobsters may have red roe inside, and many lobsters will also contain a green-substance called tamale. Both of these are an acquired taste, but are excellent spread on crusty bread. Dont forget to put a scrap bucket on or under the table for the shells.
Lobster in the city:
If you happen to have leftovers, Jambor suggests lobster salad. After chopping the lobster meat roughly, add mayonnaise, lemon, lemon zest and a touch of mustard and mix. You can also add some celery and onion, softened a bit in a pan. Jambor serves it on brioche, but a humble hotdog bun is the most traditional. Or find a great lobster roll as youre out and about in the city:
Wild Edibles Market and Restaurant
535 Third Ave.
Enjoy chef Jambors lobster salad recipe, as well as other whole lobsters and other seafood. The market will also cook lobsters for you, so you can enjoy them at home.
Red Hook Lobster Pound at the Brooklyn Flea
Water St. and New Dock St.
One bite of the Red Hook Lobster Pounds lobster roll, and youll be transported to the rocky coast of Maine. These are only sold at the Brooklyn Flea from 11-6 on Sundays; the line can be long, but its worth the wait.
568 Amsterdam Ave.
96 Second Ave.
Enjoy a great deal on lobster rolls at the Mermaid Inn, which offers a Blue Plate Special including a lobster roll, fries, dessert and a beer for $20.