With inshore fishermen from Cromer to Cadgwith now fully engaged in the 2017 summer lobster season, there’s literally no reason why, with increasing local availability, and thanks to the sterling conservation work done by the National Lobster Hatchery, UK consumers shouldn’t indulge themselves and sample the unique flavour of this sustainable, ubiquitous and iconic crustacean.
Recipes for Homarus gammarus, literally abound and every locality has their preferred way of enjoying the sweetness and texture of its meat to the max. Simply boiled, grilled with garlic, thermidor, ravioli, risotto or as a bisque, the list is endless and chefs across the land delight in and celebrate our native fish in a plethora of both classic and newly contrived recipes.
Thought the summer, from now until September, I’ll be showcasing a different lobster recipe each month from some of the top seafood chefs and writers in the country. It’s all part of the passion and a way of helping consumers to connect with the fish themselves, and to learn about the provenance, traceability and what makes these ubiquitous, “caretakers of the seabed” such a delectable prize.
As mentioned in my previous post, our local lobsters here on the Suffolk coast are now firmly “on the crawl” and to kick off a summer’s celebration of them, I’m absolutely delighted that fellow Guild of Food Writers committee member and hugely accomplished chef, Charlotte Pike, has very kindly agreed to get the ball rolling, with a wonderfully flavoursome, but very uncomplicated, lobster recipe from her brand new book, “Smoked” by Kyle Books only just published this month.
Smoked fish and shellfish have been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember and for me, this ancient and time-honoured process can enhance and exemplify the subtle flavours inherent in so many forms of seafood, often by the addition of just the merest trace of smoke.
Home-smoking too, is not only hugely worthwhile, but an incredibly satisfying and creative way of combining the provenance of great food with the joy of outdoor cooking.
Congratulations Charlotte, on such a splendid book!
Barbecued Lobster with Smoked Butter
Fresh lobster is always a real treat but the sweet flesh tastes particularly sublime when cooked with smoked butter. It makes a really special centrepiece for a barbecue or summer supper, enjoyed al fresco. I like the flavour of cooking the lobster over oak and hickory wood charcoal on the Big Green Egg.
2 cooked native lobsters
100g smoked butter (see below)
2 lemons, cut into wedges, to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the barbecue until very hot.
Split the cooked lobsters in half lengthways. It is easiest to do this with a large chopping knife and insert the point of the knife in the middle of the tail, working back carefully towards the head in one, careful slice.
This is a great place to start if you haven’t smoked anything before. It’s quick, easy and so delicious. Try melting smoked butter on steamed vegetables, chargrilled steaks and even sweet treats, such as chocolate brownies, for an extra dimension of smoky flavour.
250g salted butter
Set up the cold smoker using a wood of your choice and light it. Put the butter in a heatproof, non-metallic dish. When the smoker is at the correct stage (see page 11), with a thick cloud of smoke appearing in the cold chamber, add the butter and smoke for 30 minutes. Remove the butter, wrap well and store in the refrigerator. Leave it for 24 hours before eating. The smoked butter will keep for up to a month in the fridge
Melt the smoked butter in a pan and brush a little over the flesh of the lobster. Set the remaining melted butter aside, keeping it warm.
Barbecue, cut-side down, for about 5 minutes until the meat is piping hot and lightly chargrilled.
Remove the lobster from the grill, remove the meat from the shell and immediately drop it into the warm melted butter. Toss the lobster in the butter, season with salt and pepper and serve in warm bowls, with lemon wedges on the side.
Enjoy warm, either on its own with some excellent bread to mop up the smoked butter, with a crisp, green salad, or even, for the ultimate indulgence, spooned on to a barbecued steak.
For Charlotte’s recipe, I used local lobsters, caught in my own pots off the Suffolk coast, probably the ultimate discipline in wild foraging! Fresh from the boat, boiled in seawater and then simply grilled, producing that luscious Mediterranean aroma, that just makes you want to live by the sea forever.
And, if you don’t have the necessary gear or wherewithal to smoke your butter, then there are several really fantastic products available, which come in a variety of wood flavours from oak to hickory. I used Abernethy smoked butter, on Charlotte’s recommendation, which really stands out and has an incredible taste, which not only does the charred lobster meat immense justice, but opens up an endless host of seafood opportunities. They produce seaweed butter too, which I’m sure will feature in another post.
Such a fantastic dish. Very simple, sensationally flavoursome and profoundly satisfying, especially when sitting close to the water’s edge on a balmy summer’s evening, with a glass of something crisp and dry to hand.