Stuart’s, our excellent seafood store in Amaganset offers cooked lobster meat out of the shell for $55 a pound. The pieces are nice and big, the claws neatly extracted to keep their form. The thick tails are tightly curled, a crucial sign. Lobster tails will only curl up when cooked if the lobster is alive just before cooking. Already dead lobster tails don’t curl.
The lobster meat by the pound is great for pasta and other hot dishes. Very convenient, especially when cooking for a crowd.
But I’ve wondered if there is a premium charged for the work of getting the meat out of the shell. Ergo some empirical method research was in order.
Three 1 1/4 lb. lobsters came to $55, which made my research easier. Carefully steamed — 12 minutes, then removed from the pot to cool — and thoroughly shelled, the meat came to a respectable 1 lb. 2 ounces.
So in this particular instance shelling the the meat at home resulted in only marginal quantity advantages. But the taste differences make it worth the effort.
At the seafood market the cooking and shelling happens onsite, so it’s fresh. But it is kept refrigerated, which makes the crucial difference. Chilling cooked lobster dulls the flavor and tightens up the meat, the first step on the road to rubbery.
The lesson here? The best lobster rolls are made with freshly cooked, freshly dressed meat. One pound of meat makes for four generously stuffed, meat-spilling-out Lobster Rolls. And since we live in East Hampton, this recipe is called
3 1 1/4 lb. live lobsters
1 stalk celery – use a tender one from the inner stalk
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
a pinch of salt
one grind of pepper
4 hot dog buns
1 teaspoon butter
1. Steam the lobsters in 1 1/2″ of water in a heavy covered pot for 12 minutes. Remove from pot and let them cool down to room temperature.
2. Shell the cooled meat. Save the body and shells for stock.
3. Roughly chop the meat into nice hefty chunks. In a bowl toss the meat with the mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and one twist of the pepper mill.
4. Melt the butter in a skillet, open up the buns and brown the cut side of the buns as you would a grilled cheese sandwich.
5. Pile the lobster meat into the still-warm buns. Let the meat spill out onto the serving platter or plates.
I like having a shot of Tabasco. Purists seem not to. Whichever way they are perfection.Print This Post