About half the lobster America eats comes from Maine, and that state’s marketing engine has been in overdrive this summer promoting its “new shell lobster,” whose merits are boiled down nicely in this Serious Eats taste test. In short, the meat is sweeter and easier to get at than hard shell lobster, but it might cost more.
The bottom line is this: The U.S.-caught crustacean needs to break out of its deep-pockets image. It is year-round, plentiful, sustainable seafood we could stand to eat more of. Its availability at more Washington area farmers markets is helping that cause, but I suspect the kitchen scene from “Annie Hall” is pretty much how home cooks look at live lobster prep.
Fun facts: Lobster went from surplus prison food in 18th-century America to delicacy status by World War II, in part because fancy big-city restaurants began to serve it. Today, a mere 4 percent of 2,000 restaurants surveyed from Maine to Baltimore dish up Maine lobster, according to LobsterFromMaine.com.
A Maine lobsterman recently showed me this trick, learned from his father who still hauls in traps each week. Stand a live lobster on its head, with claws forward and propped up on its knuckles (see photo above, demonstrated on a cooked lobster). After 10 minutes or so, it will be still — “asleep” is the word the expert used while the Internet prefers “hypnotize.” It seems to work, evident in the relative lack of twitching I first hear in the pot, and therefore has moved above the toss-it-in-the-freezer-first method on my list.
It’s no surprise we have some topnotch ways to utilize lobster meat in our Recipe Finder, and you’ll find some of our favorites listed below. But first . . . .
The sum of readers’ most-viewed picks online looks like the makings of an Olympics-watching menu to us:
1. Fruit Slab Pie. The first crowd-friendly creation from Cathy Barrow’s new Bring It column.
2. Tandoori-Spiced Chicken Salad. Ellie Krieger’s variation on a classic contains a kick.
3. Marinated Corn, Tomato and Halloumi Salad. An edible lesson from Sweetgreen on how to build a well-rounded bowlful.
4.Fruity Salmon. Who knew berries and fish could make such an easy #DinnerInMinutes?
5. Dorie Greenspan’s Marinated and Seared Steak. Smart; the zippy marinade cooks down to a sauce.
and now, the lobstah: