We've been coming to Maine since I was a kid for our summer holidays. There is no better season to experience the coast of Maine than late summer and early fall. There are plenty of fresh vegetables, blueberries, and of course lobster. Specifically we come to Moose Island (Eastport). It's as far north and east as you can go in the US. We can see Campobello and Deer Island, Canada from our deck. We've come here for nearly forty years.
The word "lobster" is a paradox. The name evokes decadence and privilege, yet classic boiled or steamed lobster is as down home as you can get. It is one of the most delicious creatures from the sea. The taste is of the ocean, delicate, sweet and rich. And the texture lush on your palate. No matter where or how you eat it, it's decadent.
I'm sure you've heard about the price of lobster this year. It's $4 a pound for soft shell lobsters and about $6 a pound for hard shells. And if you are near the Canadian border you can find them cheaper there. Eating the lobster here reminded me of a quote from Julia Child "freshness is essential-- it makes all the difference". I've spent the last week in Eastport enjoying lobster nearly every day taking advantage of the uber-fresh lobster and low prices.
Lobster that's why we're here! I want the females because they offer the wonderfully delicious roe and are sweeter. To identify a female lobster look at the underside (belly) where the tail meets the body and you'll see that the first two little legs are feathery. On a male they look like little pinchers. You'll need one per person (1 ¼ - 1 ½ pounds). The larger ones are delicious too-- the sweetest meat is in the body and it is easier to retrieve. The large ones aren't tougher unless you overcook them. Your lobster should be active and a little feisty, these are the freshest lobsters.
Keep in mind it will probably take longer for the water to come to a boil than for the lobster to cook, so have the rest of your menu ready. Last, but not least have melted butter or a drawn butter sauce. For me this is the best way to enjoy a lobster. If you by chance have left over lobster, then make lobster rolls, lobster risotto, or lobster pasta dish. It's always special when you serve lobster so let's get crack'n (lobster that is) for the Labor Day holiday.
Perfectly cooked lobster
Here's what you need to know to cook a perfect lobster.
1. A feisty lobster with character (hard shell, female) from the pound.
2. A pot large enough to fit the lobsters(s).
3. Salt the water so it tastes like the ocean, that's about a tablespoon or so per quart-trust me on this.
4. I remove the rubber bands from the claws because they leave a bitter rubber taste on the claw meat. Remove the rubber bands carefully just before placing them in the boiling water. It's a little tricky. You have to hold the lobster by the body and then have someone come from behind with the scissors and quickly cut the rubber bands off. If you'd rather play it safe then put the lobster in the boiling water for about 2 minutes then using tongs remove the lobster from the pot and cut off the rubber bands, then finish cooking them.
5. Most important of all don't overcook your lobster. There's really no way to test a lobster for doneness without cracking it open. The guide below will help cook it perfectly.
Lobster Weight: Cooking Time
1-1/4 lbs. 6-7 minutes
1-1/2 lb. 7-9 minutes
2 lbs. 10-11 minutes
2-1/2-3 lb. 11-12 minutes
Don't add time to the cooking because of the additional lobsters and start the cooking time from when the water returns to a boil.
The lobster is done when the outer shell is bright red, the meat is white, and the roe is salmon red. If you've opened a lobster and it isn't quite done then gently cook it on low heat in the melted butter or drawn butter sauce. If you were distracted for some reason and fear you overcooked it, then plunge it into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.
6. Lobster loves butter. Use the best unsalted European style. You've already splurged on the lobster, so why stop there? Season it with sea salt and perhaps a few drops of lemon juice or make drawn butter sauce.
Lobster Dinner Menu
Steamers and Butter
Drawn Butter Sauce
Corn on the Cob
(like Bourassa Vineyards or Groth)