The Adriatic Sea, the nearest body of water to where I grew up, is not fertile ground for lobsters so I didn’t make my acquaintance with this noble crustacean until age 13. Paris, bateau-mouche, business dinner with my dad and what I remember as a giant orange lobster (but most likely was its cousin, a langoustine) placed in front of me, with a torture instrument similar to a nut cracker. I had no idea what to do with one or the other, and my father was no help. The only possible solution seemed to make myself even more inconspicuous, hoping no one would notice the untouched creature on my plate.
I have come a long way since then and am no longer afraid to use my fingers and whatever other instrument to pry lobster meat out of her claws. I love lobster. During a brief stint in the Google kitchens in Mountain View, a chef from Maine introduced me to that amazing East coast staple: the lobster roll. Barely toasted bread roll slathered with melted butter and packed with lobster meat barely kept together by a hint of mayonnaise. Heaven in a bun.
It’s a good thing the lobster bun craze has taken over Los Angeles, all the better to satisfy my cravings: lobster trucks and any self-respecting seafood restaurants now have countless variations of the roll, although the basic Maine one is still my favourite.
I read somewhere that lobster prices have come down, due to their abundance this year, but I haven’t seen this decrease reflected at the fish market where I shop. What I did see, though, last time I was at Wholefoods, were lobster tails for $12.00 and the fish monger assured me I could get 4 oz of meat out of each. I bought only one, thinking I would make one lobster roll for myself but, when I got home, out of the single tail, and inspired by a David Tanis’ recipe, I organized dinner for two around it. With the simple addition of cherry tomatoes, shallot and basil a pasta dish came together, heightened by the sweetness of the lobster meat. It felt like an amazing mid-week treat.
1 or 2 lobster tails
200 g of short pasta
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of basil, chopped
one shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1. Drop the lobster tail in boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. Then remove all the meat with your fingers and cut it in chunks.
2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and, when hot, add the shallot. Cook for 5 minutes and add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes fall apart and have rendered their juices. Add the lobster meat and cook for a minute more, until heated through.
3. In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Add the basil and mix thoroughly. Serve.
All photos C&S, unless otherwise stated