Lobster, just as she comes
Normally I do not buy lobster in my village or in Paris and prefer to buy them along the coast where they are fresh and cheaper. But the other day, at the close of the Sunday market, while we were heading to have lunch in a restaurant, a fishmonger caught my attention to his two last lobsters. One was a large blue animal, the other smaller and brown. Both were clearly alive. He made a good price – the same as what I pay at the coast, outside the festive season when prices sky rocket – and we took two lobsters out to lunch.
There are many recipes with lobster and most add thick sauces to the delicate flesh which sometimes makes me think the recipe has been made in order to hide the fact that the lobsters had been cooked long before serving.
Lobster is low in fat and carbohydrates and rich in proteins. Some of the sauces add the fat and carbohydrates back, such as the amoricaine (or americaine) sauce of butter, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley and cognac.
To really appreciate the taste of lobster, you should keep it as close to naked as possible.
You can present the lobster in many ways – a small mould of rings of the tail with a claw on top and with some tomalley, roe or eggs. Or the tail split lengthwise surrounded by claws and legs.
Or, especially when it is just the two of you in a holiday home, you present it in one piece. That is what I did here.
You need a live lobster and that means you have to kill it. Do not keep a live lobster in a plastic bag as it will suffocate. Some people say lobsters do not feel pain. I do not know that but they have feelers and can feel their way around the sea bottom, so there is reason to be as ‘humane’ as possible when killing lobster.
The best way is sticking a short and sharp knife in the head between the eyes.
Another way is putting it in the freezer for a while or putting it in the sink of the kitchen, turning the tap on and increasing the heat while the sink fills up.
This is supposed to desensitise the lobster and then it dies in non-sea water.
Plunging the lobster head down in boiling water kills it almost instantly. The lobster’s tail muscle has a tendency to retract on contact with the water and can throw up a wave of scalding water over the hand of the cook, so wear gloves.
The tail will curl up. If you want it to stay straight, you need to tie the lobster up along the tail on a large spoon, or use another method to kill it like the quick stab.
I had a female lobster carrying eggs between its legs. I scraped them away and kept them for use in another preparation. Just like the smaller lobster that went into the freezer.
- One live lobster
- A handful of rock salt
- Two bay leaves
- Two slices of lemon
- Fill a large pan with water. Add the bay leaves and slices of lemon, as well as rock salt. This is for taste but also for disinfecting any impurities on the lobster shell.
- Bring the water to the boil. Kill the lobster and put it in the water, head down. The cooking time depends on the weight of the animal. Take 13 minutes for 500 grammes and add three minutes per pound extra (or 36 seconds per 100 grammes). Do not overcook.
- Take the lobster out of the water with slotted spoon, rinse with cold water and let it drain for a while so that cooking and rinsing water flows out of the carapace.
- Serve it with a special two-pronged lobster fork and pliers to break the carapace.
You can add bread, mayonnaise or aioli garlic sauce to the lobster but then you come back to my first point about the delicacy of the taste of the lobster flesh. Better not!