Say you're at the beach, and you don't feel like cooking -- this is not a hard scenario to imagine. But you've invited friends over for a meal, and you'd like to make an effort at summertime elegance. So you stop at a roadside stand for fresh corn and salad fixings. And then you splurge and buy some steamed lobsters.
That's the scenario we presented to four local chefs, asking them to transform our combination of cooked and fresh ingredients. In the third of our "Extreme Makeover" series, we've upped the ante with steamed lobster -- the ultimate in takeout food -- some ears of fresh corn and a salad.
What were some chef secrets that the home cook could steal?
In fact, a couple of chefs we asked didn't want to fiddle with that quintessential summer meal.
But others accepted our challenge, knowing the glamour potential of lobster. They created impressive dishes that aren't hard to emulate.
We told our chefs we'd turn up with a 1- to 1 1/2-pound lobster, a couple of ears of corn and a bagged slaw mix. They could do just about anything they wanted except they couldn't cook anything, apart from steaming the corn.
They could use butter, lemon, tomatoes, salad greens, any of the prepared sauces or condiments in their kitchen and a starch that didn't have to be cooked (no fair using the lobster meat for a risotto, for example). They could also reject elements we brought. And, in truth, in the midst of summertime abundance, the slaw mix was a tough sell.
The lobster could be taken apart, sliced, cut up -- or not. And any part of the shell could be used for decoration.
Each of them disassembled the lobster, saving some of the tail meat for starring roles. Each of them cut up the remaining lobster and mixed it with flavorful juices, herbs or sauces. Each sliced the corn kernels from the cob before adding them to a soup or salad.
Some of them cheated a little -- it was hard to resist using the lobster shell for stock, for example, or giving the corn a quick go-round in a saute pan. But the pictures you see here show what all chefs can do (and what home cooks can imitate) with top-quality simple ingredients. To learn what our chefs did and how they did it, read on.
(In our two previous "Makeover" articles, different chefs used their magic on a takeout chicken with sides and a store-bought white layer cake.)
chefs at Yanyu and Spices, splashed
their own version of lobster salad with sunumono dressing. GORDON CAMERON, chef at Legal Seafoods, created this summer lobster salad with purple Peruvian potatoes and heirloom and yellow grape tomatoes.