Lobster: The new bargain cuisine?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In times of economic crisis, rice and beans seem to be the most appropriate menu item, so what is Melissa Clark doing cooking up lobster?

While the economy slows into recession and inflation is running rampant, there are a few prices that are falling: Gas and lobster. New York Times food writer Melissa Clark joins The Takeaway to showcase all the recipes you would never try with a lobster when it was full priced. Now that it's down on its luck, why not deep fry it?

Time: 40 minutes

For the Sherry Sauce:
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup dry (fino) sherry
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the lobster:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sherry
3 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) steamed lobsters, meat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 pound fresh egg pasta (see note), cooked and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salmon caviar, for garnish (optional)

1. To make the sauce, in a heatproof bowl, beat together the yolks, sherry, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Do not allow water to come to a boil or the eggs may curdle. Whisk constantly until light, frothy, and thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until butter turns nut brown (watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn), about 4 minutes. Immediately add the sherry and stir. Add the remaining ingredients, except caviar. Toss well and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Gently toss in sherry sauce.
3. Divide among serving plates and serve, topped with salmon caviar, if desired.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Note: You can substitute cooked spaetzle for the pasta if you like.


For the Cajun Butter:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder

4 live lobsters, about1 1/2 pounds each

1. Preheat the broiler. Arrange an oven rack 4 inches from the heat source.
2. To make the Cajun Butter, stir together the ingredients.
3. To quickly kill the lobsters, first freeze them for 15 minutes to slow their metabolisms. Place a lobster on its back. Using a sharp knife and quick movement, slice the lobster in half lengthwise through the softer underside of its body, head to tail (this will kill it humanely according to experts). Grab both sides of the shell and split open the body, cracking through its hard back. Scoop out its grey-green innards. Use the back of a heavy knife to crack open both claws. Repeat with the remaining lobsters. (You can have your fishmonger do all this for you as long as you cook the lobsters within an hour of their demise).
4. Arrange the lobsters in a single layer in a large roasting pan (or use 4 large gratin dishes). Coat body and claw meat generously with the butter. Broil, basting once halfway through with pan juices, until the lobster meat is cooked through and slightly charred, about 12 minutes. Remove lobster from the oven. Spoon pan juices over lobster and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

4 medium russet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
1 cup crème fraiche
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) steamed lobsters, meat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Scrub the potatoes, Prick each all over with a fork, and bake until soft, 45 to 60 minutes.
4. When the potatoes are cooked (and cool enough to handle), cut the top 1/3 off each one. Scoop the flesh (from the tops too) into a bowl and mash with the crème fraiche, chives, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fold in the lobster. Divide the mixture among the potato shells and top with parmesan.
5. Return potatoes to the oven and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Time: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
2 inches gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
6 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces maitake or shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts only
2 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) steamed lobsters, meat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the mushrooms and scallions and cook tossing occasionally, until soft and golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in lobster, stock, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately, over rice if you like.

Yield: 4 servings.


Melissa Clark


Melissa Locker

Comments [7]


I think many of the people responding to this program are missiing the point entirely. The point of the program was to dispell the common myth most people believe--that plunging a lobster into boiling water is a quick and relatively painless way to kill a lobster.

When I heard that the creature could actually stay living for up to a minute in the boiling water, that was a real wake-up call for me! I certainly don't want to subject any creature to an agonizing death like this.

While people may be turned off by these graphic descriptions, the important thing is that people are educated as to what is humane and what is not.

Thank you for enlighting the listeners on this subject and for giving advice that hopefully others will follow in order to not subject an animal to any more pain than is absolutely necessary.

Dec. 11 2008 09:03 AM
Clark Westfield

Unfortunately, during the brief time it took me to do my usual switch away from WNYC to another station to avoid The Takeaway, I was subjected to an offensive discussion about killing lobsters, accompanied by the hosts' juvenile giggles. However, having listened to this show several times, their insensitivity to animal cruelty doesn't surprise me. You don't have to be a vegetarian to feel moral repugnance and real horror at the idea of killing an animal by torturing it in boiling water. You've sunk to a new, disgusting low. Please take this program off the air and stop subjecting loyal WNYC listeners to this garbage.

Dec. 10 2008 05:51 PM

YUM!! The recipes sound amazing. I cant wait to try the cajun butter. Thanks Melissa!

Dec. 10 2008 04:38 PM

As a species we are primarily omnivorous. As a society we have become separated from the sources of our foods.
To hear the description was reality, and perhaps a wake-up call to many.
I think that being aware is to begin to take responsibility.
Your choices are your own from that point.

Dec. 10 2008 12:58 PM
Elizabeth Tobier

I am another listener that was appalled at the breezy handling of the practicalities of killing a lobster on your show this morning. May I suggest that The Takeaway offer an opposing view to the one we had to put up with today at breakfast time? I would be interested in hearing a show with two authors who have written books on the subject of exploiting animals for food: Sharon Gannon, author of Yoga and Vegetarianism, and Karen Davis, who wrote More Than a Meal. Thanks.

Dec. 10 2008 11:37 AM
Dr. Laura Palmer

This was the most sadistic, offensive program to wake to this morning. The lack of humanity evidenced by Melissa Clark as she details how long it takes a lobster to die in boiling water followed by the playbook on the best way to kill another being was grotesque. For a vegetarian, this was aking to Dahmer giving a blow by blow on his kills and meals.

Please chose your programming with more discretion and spare our waking psyches from such violence.

Dec. 10 2008 10:09 AM

Isn't there something oxymoronic to talk about killing a lobster "humanly" before you EAT it?

Dec. 10 2008 08:40 AM

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