Wrap your claws around new methods to prepare lobster
You know your way around Gulf shrimp. Can do a lovely sear on tuna. Know how to grill salmon to perfection. But when it comes to lobster, it can sometimes be a head scratcher.
What was once referred to as “poor man’s chicken” has proven itself quite the delicacy. Whether you serve it in your high-end restaurant or roadside lobster shack, there are many ways to prepare lobster.
“Don’t dry out the lobster or overcook it,” said Nate “Nick” Nickerson, the owner of Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham, Mass. “Whether you steam, boil, broil or whatever, it’ll take trial and error to get to where the lobster meat is just cooked enough.” The 150-seat Arnold’s, which first opened in 1977, serves upwards of 1,500 pounds of lobster a week during their high season from mid-May through October.
While Arnold’s draws crowds for everything from fried clams to all-natural gourmet ice cream, it’s really known for its steamed whole lobsters served with warm drawn butter, and cold lobster rolls. The trick to a really great lobster roll? “Don’t use tail meat,” Nickerson said. “And the lobster meat has to be cooked perfectly so it’s tender.” He added you want to use hot dog rolls, not brioche, and grill the rolls on a flat grill to brown the bread on both sides. Add the best mayo you can, as well as a squirt of lemon and that’s it.
Beyond lobster rolls and steamed lobster, you can do a host of things to lobster meat. The Lobster Pot in Provincetown, Mass., which has been owned by the McNulty family since 1979, will do upwards of 1,400 meals a day during the summer high season. For that reason, they diversify their menu and serve the freshest lobster possible. “You can boil it, roast it, grill it, cook it and pick the meat out and do a thousand things with it,” said chef Tim McNulty. “Our most popular dishes are the boiled lobster, lobster salad rolls, lobster avocado and mango cocktail. I put a twist on arancini, do a lobster taco, lobster ravioli ... think about what you like and give it a little twist with lobster.”
Executive Chef Stephanie Cmar of Fairsted Kitchen in Brookline, Mass., did just that. She took the idea of a beignet, a favorite New Orleans fried pastry fritter, added lobster inside and served it with smoked corn and scallions. It’s not dissimilar to the arancini idea at the Lobster Pot, but it just shows you how diverse and creative you can get with this spiny crustacean.
And when you want to wash it down? McNulty suggests popping open some sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or even a nice Gavi or a rosé. So no matter how you crack it, you can serve lobster in many ways. The one thing you don’t want to do? “Don’t cook a dead lobster,” McNulty said. “If they’re not fresh and right out of the water, the taste will suffer.” And so will your sales.