MarkMaker Chris Fischer shares the secret to perfectly prepared lobster.
Lobster is an iconic member of New England's culinary history. It’s the only ingredient I can think of that could single handedly represent the whole region’s food identity.
Lobstermen, and women, are stoic individuals that brave the often treacherous, unpredictable nature of Martha’s Vineyard’s coastal waters. Do them justice with this surprisingly simple lobster dinner.
The first step when preparing any lobster feast is to procure them from a reputable source – the most reputable being the ocean. If this isn’t possible then your trusted fishmonger should be sufficient. Lobsters are even available through mail order, although I have been lucky enough to never have to go this route.
Growing up on Martha's Vineyard, for me, meant having a father with 10 pots sunk in the Menemsha Pond or off the North Shore of the island. We would regularly sit outside as a family and eat lobsters at a picnic table together alongside what was best from the garden.
To cook lobster, I begin with an oversized pot of vigorously boiling water. Give yourself plenty of room to fit these squirmy creatures into the pot (yes, I put them in live). Add the lobsters and cover with a tight-fitting lid – I prefer them between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 lbs as their meat is much more delicate than larger ones.
Cook the lobsters for approximately 12-15 minutes depending on the amount you are doing at once. A general rule of thumb is to pull the tentacle from the head and when it comes off easily the lobster is done. I also make sure to rotate the lobsters halfway through if you have layered them in the pot to ensure an even cook time.
While the lobsters are cooking, gently melt a generous amount of salted butter with a squeeze of lemon in it.
When the lobsters are done, remove from the pot and place on a platter. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving – this allows for them to be handled easier and for some of the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.
The tail is my favorite part so I eat the claws first. You can crack them with lobster crackers, a hammer or a pair of scissors depending on your mood. (Also, dressing appropriately for a lobster feast is important, I recommend something waterproof and washable!)
The cleanest way to get the meat out is to cut down both sides of the lobsters knuckles and claws with scissors, then simply open them up and pull the meat out. The claws have a small bit of cartilage inside them, so be sure to get that out too. If you have some melted butter, you can dip the meat in and let it soak up all that rich flavor.
To eat the tail, pull it from the body by holding the body in one hand and the tail in the other and simply twisting it off. Remove the fan at the end by also twisting it off and discarding the shell. Split the tail in two with your hand or a knife and have at it using a fork or your fingers to pull the meat from the shell, which will pull away easily. Lobster and butter are like two peas in a pod, so make sure they get to know each other well. Adding a squeeze of lemon to the butter adds a little boost in flavor, as does a nice cold beer to wash it all down.
Lobster is best served alongside something not too rich or flavorful – I love it with freshly sliced tomato or a simple potato salad. Follow these steps carefully and it’s near enough unbeatable!
Try this dish at your next supper club – Chris Fischer gives us his best hosting tips.