At Legal Sea Foods on K Street NW, chef Gordon Cameron's goal was a luxurious summer lobster salad with heirloom tomatoes, summer greens and Peruvian purple potatoes. An elegant but simply prepared dish for one or two, it could easily be doubled or tripled to feed a larger group.
After breaking down the lobster (separating the tail from the body, then the claws and knuckles), he was careful to wipe off bits of albumin that still clung to the meat. "The blood of the lobster is a clear protein liquid that coagulates when it's steamed," he explained.
The corn came next. He sliced the kernels from the cob and then pan-roasted them in a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper -- "to get the best flavor," he explained. (Cameron recommends putting the corn in the pan at the same time as the butter so that the butter doesn't brown too quickly then taking it off the flame before the corn starts to pop.)
He'd already steamed, cooled and sliced the potatoes. And he'd selected, washed and dried a variety of salad fixings -- leaves of Boston lettuce, mache, sunny heirloom tomatoes and yellow grape tomatoes, fresh green beans for textural and color contrasts. "You can use any greens you want," he said.
Arranging medallions of lobster from the tail around one edge of a shallow soup plate, he filled the center with salad greens, potato slices and corn kernels layered with a light citrus vinaigrette (the zests of lemon, lime and orange, three parts olive oil to one part citrus juice, a splash of rice wine vinegar, chopped shallots, a bit of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper). Opposite the lobster medallions, along another edge of the plate, he placed tomatoes (sliced heirlooms and yellow grapes) and toward the center he balanced the claw meat.
"A great summer lunch or early dinner," Cameron said.
For decorative accents, he used toasted triangles of bread brushed with butter and tomalley (lobster liver) mixed with minced fresh chives and lemon juice, the lobster antennae for height and the tip of the lobster tail shell.
-- Judith Weinraub