Summer is winding down. At least the lazy, hazy days that are few and far between here in Maine. We just said goodbye to friends who visited us from Kentucky for a few days. Guess what they wanted to eat (nearly every day)? Lobster!
We’ve got some lobster tips from Chef Sam Bergeron that might have been helpful for our guests, although I have to say, they still managed quite well! Chef Sam leads the retail store and catering division of Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood in Portland, Maine.
Linda Kate is owned by the Nappi family — a family that has been lobstering for more than 60 years. And Sam is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu culinary program. He spent the past 10 years honing his cooking skills at restaurants in greater Portland.
I think we’ve reached out to the right people for some lobster expertise. Chef Sam also shared a recipe for lobster tacos, which you’ll find at the end of this post.
First, that lobster expertise:
What tips can you give for buying lobsters?
Some things to look for when buying lobster:
Antennae length — the longer the antennae the fresher the lobster. Lobsters kept in captivity or transported long distance are in essence starving, so they start eating each other’s antennae.
Also, you want a feisty lobster; the more defensive they are, the fresher they will be. You could say they become depressed after too long in a crate, which can’t be adding anything good to the meat!
What’s your number one suggestion for cooking lobster at home?
Don’t bother, You’re better off just having a company that will steam it for you for no extra charge! (Like Linda Kate Lobster!) That way there is no guesswork involved when it comes to the process. You will have perfect lobster every time.
If you’re determined to cook it at home, steam it, don’t boil it! Use an inch of water in a large pot, elevate the lobster above the water using a metal strainer, and cook for 8-10 minutes depending on size, after the water has come to a full steam/boil.
Do you have any lobster picking pro-tips?
If you want to pick lobster meat like a boss, invest in a decent pair of seafood specific scissors. You will love yourself for it. They range in price from twenty dollars to above eighty, but they pretty much do the same thing, it’s all about quality at that point.
They will save you from poking yourself with the spines on the shell, as well as help you produce a more elegant looking product for use in other preparations – if you don’t plan in scarfing it down immediately, that is!
Why is Maine lobster the best lobster?
Maine lobster is the best lobster because of its texture. Unlike the Canadians who fish for lobster in seasons, we harvest year round. (In Canada, closing zones periodically let the lobster harden into old shell, a more expensive product.) This means that Maine lobstermen are harvesting the lobster right after it sheds when the texture of the meat is the softest and most flavorful, in my opinion.
If we’ve put you in the mood for a lobster, but you’d like to try something new, how about a lobster taco? Thank you, Chef Sam and Linda Kate Lobster & Seafood for the recipe.
- 2 cups mayo
- Zest and juice of one lime
- 2 roasted jalapeños
- 1/2-2/3 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 tsp chipotle in Adobo
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 cloves garlic
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
- Toss the meat from a one-lb steamed lobster (3-4 oz, enough for three solid tacos) with only a teaspoon of the mayo to start and taste it. The mayo is very flavorful so the dish only requires a small amount— and it’s that much healthier to add less, as you really will only ingest about a tsp worth in a whole order of tacos.
Pickled onions and jalapeños
- Slice thinly 2 red onions — reserve in canning jar
- Slice thinly 6-10 jalapeños — reserve separately in jar from onions, unless you want spicy onions
- 2 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Bring these ingredients to a boil and pour over cut vegetables, place on counter to cool, and cover when put in refrigerator (will keep for two or three weeks.)
- 1 avocado with pit, any blemishes, and skin removed
- Juice and zest of 2 limes
- Heavy pinch salt
Purée with 2 ice cubes, lime juice, and salt until smooth. The ice will keep it from heating up too much and browning, as does the acid in the lime. At the same time, it thins it to the perfect consistency.
(Avocado sauce only lasts a few days, so either have a taco night and use it all up or make some veggie burgers and try it on them the next night!)
To make the taco, I suggest using a slightly warmed flour tortilla instead of a corn tortilla, but that’s my personal preference. Corn tortillas end up less appealing after sitting for longer than a few minutes after being warmed, although they do have more flavor. In this case, the flavor is all about the lobster, so why try and override it?
Start with a layer of shredded lettuce or cabbage. At Linda Kate Lobster we like to shred it thinly, then salt and rinse and dry thoroughly (which we also do for our fried oyster tacos.) Remember that any type of lettuce you pick up at the farmers market will taste better (and be more healthy) than iceberg!
Add the lobster, sprinkle on some pickled onions and jalapeños, top with avocado sauce and dig in!
*The mayo recipe was originally created by Sam’s “lovely girlfriend” Jessica St. Ours. She made it for veggie burger sliders Linda Kate did for an event. That’s Sam and Jessica standing in front of Linda Kate’s.
If you’d like to visit the store, it’s currently open Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-7:00 pm and Sunday, 11:00am-4:00 pm. (Then closed on Tuesdays after Labor Day.) The storefront will be open until the Super Bowl, then will likely close for a month. Best bet is to check FB for updated hours.