Thursday, March 13, 2008

Flailing Claws

Lobster was one of those foods I could not stand as a kid. Maybe it was the fact that I would walk into a restaurant and immediately see these poor creatures occupying such wretched conditions -- so far removed from a natural setting -- climbing all over each other with pitifully bound claws. As the years went on I grew to love the rich, sweetness of this king of the crustaceans. I have eaten lobsters while on the Mediterranean, living on the Pacific Ocean, from both the California coast and the shores of Australia, and I always considered the lobster I know as child the best – those from the northern coast of the eastern seashore.

I tend to buy lobsters that are 1-1/2 to 2 pounds in weight – any larger and their meat takes on a tougher quality. I then cook them for 16 minutes fully submerged in boiling water. I remove the now redden lobsters to a tray to allow any excess water drain from its shell.

To break the lobster down – twist the tail from the head. Then lay the tail on its side and place a towel over the tail. Gently press down on the tail till you hear the tail crack. Then using the towel to protect your hands from the sharp scalloped edges of the tail split the shell open to reveal the meat. Use a pair of lobster crackers to break the claws open. The spidery legs for me are the chef’s delight – best way to get to that meat is to just suck it out.

Lobster and Mango Salad with Mint Dressing – yields 6 to 8 servings

3 lobsters (about 1/12 pounds each)
2 cups water
2 cups white wine
1 vanilla bean – split down lengthwise
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 ripe mango
1/2 pound jicama – peeled and sliced julienne
1 hot house English cucumber

In a 12-inch high-sided pan that will accommodate the lobsters place the water, wine, and vanilla bean and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and place in the lobsters. Cook the lobster for 16 minutes, covered. Remove the lobsters from the poaching liquid and let cool. Split the bottom side of the lobster tails to expose its meat with a pair of kitchen scissors and gently loosen the lobster from its shell. Remove the meat from the claws. Slice the lobster meat into about 1/12” to 2” medallions.

Peel the mango and remove the flesh from the seed. Slice the mango into 1/2” thin slices.
Arrange the ingredients on plate in an alternating circular pattern. Drizzle with the dressing.

1/2 cup packed mint
1/2 cup packed cilantro
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
3/4-cup olive oil
1/4- cup almond oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth.

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