Lobster. For me, this word conjures up images of mounds of lobster shells littering a picnic table every summer after a family reunion at the beach in Borden, Prince Edward Island (PEI). Or preparing for a cozy Christmas Eve dinner where the anticipation of having a “good mess of lobsters” is greater than seeing Santa.
I associate lobster with family and special celebrations — perhaps because these 10-legged crustaceans are such a delicacy and not part of our normal fare. Although, I confess, I always have a can of lobster meat in the freezer to make a hot lobster sandwich when I need a special pick-me-up.
Its value as a comfort food is priceless, and has pulled me out of the doldrums on more than one occasion. And there’s nothing to match a lobster omelet for breakfast. But before we talk actual recipes, let’s look at some rather fascinating facts about these fine critters.
Lobsters are the perfect food. They are high in protein, but low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. They are easy to digest and are a great source of vitamins. They can be eaten hot or cold and there are hundreds of ways to use them in recipes.
In a book titled The Secret Life of Lobster, author Trevor Corson shares some rather intriguing tidbits about our friend, Homarus americanus. Lobsters grow by ripping off their own skeletons — including the lining of their stomachs. They also engage in deadly combat and play a gruesome game called “claw lock.”
Flirting is not uncommon and they do this by urinating in each other’s face. They actually dance during courtship and make love in the missionary position. They also employ 20,000 eyes for detecting light — but still have terrible vision.
I remember how, growing up, fishermen’s kids were embarrassed to bring lobster sandwiches to school for lunch. I was plenty eager to swap my baloney sandwich, knowing full well I was getting the best part of the deal.
Yet, at the time, baloney was favored over lobster anywhere in town — something that never made sense to me. These clawed creatures seemed to get some respectability in restaurants early in the 50s, likely because US visitors expected it and the demand for live lobsters (or fresh frozen lobster) also soared in the market place.
Later in the 50s, the Hot Lobster Sandwich was actually invented here in my home town (Yarmouth, Nova Scotia) at Harris’ Seafood Restaurant. One of the popular dishes served there at the time was Lobster Nova Scotia Style. It consisted of a generous portion of freshly cooked lobster cut up and served with thick cream, butter, a touch of dry mustard, salt and pepper.
It’s hard to beat a lobster cooked in a big kettle of steaming salt water at the shore. (Steam for 12-20 minutes, depending on size and the number you have in a pot.) But lobster is also pretty special cooked at home (remember to salt your water!)
As well, it’s pretty good prepared in other ways, using canned or frozen lobster. Here are some of my favourite recipes. If you have a special lobster recipe, why not post it? You may even have questions about these critters. I don’t have all the answers but I know a few people who are pretty savvy on the subject. So fire away.
Lobster Pasta Dinner
2 C freshly cooked lobster coarsely chopped (or a can frozen lobster)
1 onion chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of celery soup
¼ C Miracle Whip
1-2 tablespoons curry
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley to pretty the dish (optional)
cooked pasta (spaghetti noodles or linguine)
Cook onions in butter, add lobster, creamed soup, Miracle Whip, curry, salt and pepper and heat until bubbling. Serve over cooked pasta.
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion chopped
½ red sweet pepper chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 C chopped cooked lobster
4 eggs, slightly beaten
In a large skillet, melt butter, sauté onions. Add red pepper, cayenne and lobster. Cook until heated through. Spread eggs over the top. Cover and reduce heat. Cook until eggs are set. Cut in half, fold and serve. (2 large portions)
Lobster Dip Elegante
1 8oz. package cream cheese
¼ C Miracle Whip
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
freshly chopped parsley
1 C fresh lobster meat chopped (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Melt cream cheese (low heat, stir often). Mix in Miracle Whip, garlic, onion, mustard, sugar and salt until well blended. Add lobster and vinegar. Mix well. Garnish with parsley. Serve warm. Great with cut up vegetables, nachos or fancy crackers.
“Lobster fisherman in Southwest Nova Scotia holds a large lobster” © Sandra Phinney
“Hot lobster Sandwich as invented by Clara Harris” © Sandra Phinney
“A steamed 2-pounder ready to eat” © Sandra Phinney