Steaming or boiling lobster. Which is best?

Steaming or boiling lobster?  That is the question.

With the great anticipation of the return of the outdoor cooking (bye bye winter),  lobster chef’s everywhere will soon be back to pondering the same old question.
Whether “tis better to boil or steam a live lobster.  What’s the best lobster recipe?
Two pound steamed Maine lobsters on a plate
Two Pound Steamed Maine Lobsters
 Boiling a Maine lobster is the easiest way to cook and serve a whole lobster and a boiled lobster is easier to pick clean. When you have that large picnic or party and the kettle is kept full all day with lobster, boiling is just so much easier.  But steaming a lobster often yields the best results for eating.
steamer kettle for lobster and clams
Traditional kettle for steaming clams
Here’s why:  steaming is a more gentle process of cooking the meat and it preserves more flavor and tenderness. Steaming a lobster is also more forgiving on the chef since it is harder to overcook a lobster in a steam pot.  For true lobster lovers, steaming is the way to go.
So let’s get started.
First step is to order some freshly caught, hard shell Maine lobster.  Hard shells are recommended as the lobsters are usually stronger and healthier and the hard shell lobster will have the most meat. 
Then choose a big four to five-gallon kettle or pot with a tight lid.  This size pot should be able to easily handle up to eight pounds of lobster.  Remember, don’t crowd the lobster into the pot or you will get uneven results.  It is best to have the right size pot.
Add two to three inches of sea water to the cover the bottom of the pot.  If you don’t have access to the Atlantic Ocean, don’t worry.  Use filtered fresh water and add lots of sea salt:  one to two tablespoons per quart.
Place a steaming rack inside the pot and use high heat to bring the water to a rolling boil.  If you wish, you may remove the rubber lobster claw bands.  Place the live lobster one at a time and head first into the pot and cover.  Start timing the lobster and do not overcook.
Hard Shell  Weight*
Steam:
1 pound
8-10 minutes
1-1/4 pounds
10-12 minutes
1-1/2 pounds
12-14 minutes
1-3/4 pounds
15-17 minutes
2 pounds
16-18  minutes
2-1/2 pounds
18-20 minutes
3 pounds
20-30 minutes
5 pounds
35-45 (or more) minutes

*Reduce time by 3 minutes for soft shell lobster.
Half way through the allotted cook time, open the lid and move the lobster around in the pot.  It is important to shift the lobster so they all cook evenly.  If necessary, you may add a little more water but no more salt is required.
The most important step for all lobster chefs is determining when the lobsters are done.  The first rule, do not to overcook the lobster.  A lobster shell will be bright red when fully cooked and the meat white. 
So what’s the best way to tell when the lobsters are done?
Care must be taken with large lobster as they will be red but they may not be fully cooked.  And a lobster in the top of the pot may not have cooked as fast as one at the bottom.
One popular practice is to give one of the lobster antennae a good pull while the lobster is still in the steamer pot.    If the antenna pops off, it is a good sign the lobster is done.  Another step is to use tongs to remove one lobster and cut a small slice at the bottom of the tail.  If the meat is fully changed form translucent to white, it’s done.  Note: The lobster will continue to cook for a minute even after it’s taken out of the pot, so again, do not overcook.
Allow steamed lobster to drain for a minute. You may pierce the body and tail with a knife to help drain the water.  Then serve the lobster right away with a side of melted butter and a slice of lemon.   To make eating fun and easy, serve with lobster bib and steel cracker accessory kits.

Wellfleet Oysters are the Best in the World!

We are having a family feast for Labor Day 2017.  The guests of honor, as it always is for the Labor Day Holiday, is the Wellfleet Oyster and fresh Maine Lobster.

The late Howard Mitcham, a renowned chef that called Provincetown, Cape Cod home, called the Wellfleet Oyster the best in the world. In his book, entitled “Clams, Mussels and Oysters …”  Mitcham wrote that the flavor of oysters varies widely from region to region. And as anyone who has eaten a raw Oyster knows, the flavor is complex. Oysters can be sweet, salty, earthy, or even melon.

After last Saturday, two dozen Wellfleet Oysters later, we are in complete agreement with Mitcham that the Wellfleet Oyster is the most succulent, sweet oyster in the world.   The clean, crisp, cold Cape Cod waters help produce a wonderful abundance of Wellfleet Oysters, and they are prized by locals and visitors alike.

Interestingly, the Wellfleet Oyster is a transplant from Connecticut and the Chesapeake Bay.  After Cape Cod oysters were nearly fished out in the 1800s, the Wellfleet locals introduced young southern oysters into their waters.  The oysters were fattened up on sparkling clean river estuaries and then harvested and sold in Boston.  This created the first aquaculture, as it is known today. The result was a lucrative success for the harvesters and a joy to the taste buds for the rest of us.

Experts believe the cold water and the 12-foot tides combine to help make the Wellfleet oyster plump and sweet by providing them with ample, ocean-fresh plankton.

Generations later, the flavor of a Wellfleet Oyster is as distinct as Cape Cod itself.   Today, people all over the country order Wellfleet Oysters and have the oysters delivered right to their door as fresh as if they were just purchased from a Cape Cod market.

Some people are intimidated by the challenge of opening an oyster.  And everyone has their own special technique. But there some basic steps and advice that proves true.

When selecting an oyster from a fish market bin, try to pick the ones that have a very hard shell as opposed to oysters with a brittle shell.  A hard shell usually signifies a plump, healthy oyster inside. Make sure to keep the oysters cool when you bring them home.

Oyster Knife for opening oysters
Dexter Oyster Knife

Get a good oyster knife as no other kind of knife will work.  You will need one old work glove or a heavy hand towel to hold the oyster with. When ready to open, scrub the oysters under fresh running water to remove any sand but do not immerse them in water. Place them on ice or on a flat pan in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow them to rest.  This will allow the oysters to relax and make them easier to open.

Hold the oyster with flat side up. Place the knife at the small end of the oyster, or the heel.  Press the knife into the heel and twist. If it is too hard to open, some folks will hold the oyster and knife vertically and then tap the base of the knife handle on a cutting board or stone.  This drives the knife with a good nudge into the muscle and makes it easer to pop open the shell.  Try not to spill the oyster juices. Once open, slice under the muscle to cut the oyster from the bottom shell and place the opened oyster shell on a plate of crushed ice.  This keeps the oyster level and cold. Serve immediately.

The traditional serving is with a side of fresh lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish.  A robust red wine compliments the complex flavor of the Wellfleet Oyster nicely.  Most adults can eat a dozen or more, so be sure to order enough.

Be sure to check out the Wellfleet Oysterfest in Wellfleet, MA October 14th and 15th.

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2017

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Day Boat Sea Scallops a Cape Cod Seafood Treasure

 

This time of Summer the Cape Cod “Day Boat” fishermen are arriving back in port each day carrying their precious catch of seafood treasure:  the tender, sweet Cape sea scallop.  All summer these small commercial vessels – or Day Boats – harvest from Cape Cod and Nantucket Bay the precious Cape sea scallop that locals love.
Chef’s all over New England prize the delicate, Cape sea scallop for its exceptional delicious flavor and plumpness.  The day boat scallops are a true renowned delicacy.  No where else in the world can these clean, sweet, succulent scallops be found.
From June or July through early Fall the day boats will harvest the wild-caught scallops from the pristine Cape Cod and Nantucket bay waters and sell them straight to local buyers where the scallops are processed and sent out to fine restaurants and seafood retailers. As popular as Maine Lobster this time of year, the scallops are so prized by locals, that most Cape sea scallops never get the chance to leave New England Cape Cod and Boston restaurants have a long standing tradition of offering freshly caught Cape sea scallops. 

Provincetown Cape Sea Scallops. Source WorldtoTable.com

So what is the solution for those seafood lovers that can’t get to Cape Cod this summer?
  
Thanks to a Cape Cod online delivery service – Lobsters-Online.Com  fresh day boat Cape scallops can now be ordered and shipped overnight anywhere in the country.
The Lobsters-Online.Com fulfillment facility — located in Bourne, Massachusetts on Cape Cod — processes the day boat scallops by hand.
“Our sea scallops are true “day boats” sourced daily from Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod,” said Dan Brandt, the Lobster Trap Company domestic seafood buying manager.  “The scallops are all natural, shipped dry and chemical free. They are hand shucked and shipped within 24 hours.  Our scallops are never processed, treated, or frozen ensuring they are as fresh as if you caught them yourself!”
These sea scallops are so flavorful on their own that local chefs will tell you that if you add more than two ingredients to your recipe, “it’s too much.”  Cape scallops can be baked, broiled, sautéed or fried.  Many folks simply use a hot pan with a bit of butter. Just pat the scallops dry and drop them in a hot pan and let them sizzle for a minute. (Careful: the scallops cook really fast.) 
Indeed, the day boat scallops are so highly prized by locals that they are celebrated each September at the Cape Cod Scallop Fest on Cape Cod.   This year’s event begins Sept. 22, 2017 and will be held at the East Falmouth Fair Grounds. More than 55,000 people are expected to partake in sea scallop dinners, raw bars, craft shows and non stop music. 
© LobsterOnline.Com 2017

Great Eats: Atlantic Harpoon Swordfish Are Here

Barbecue Swordfish Steak on Plate
Barbecue Swordfish Steak on Plate
This time of summer the  Atlantic Harpoon swordfish are in season.  New England fishermen call it “harpoon” season.  The fisherman, or “strikers,” head out to the Western Atlantic Ocean in small fishing boats and actually hunt the ocean surface for the swordfish. When one is spotted near the surface the striker harpoons the big fish by hand.  A fish caught this way can range from 150 to 600 pounds.

A striker goes after a Swordfish on a calm day.
Each day the daily catch is brought in and sold to local markets, and the Swordfish steaks usually end up on someone’s plate in less than 24 hours, creating an incredible New England seafood experience for enlightened connoisseurs.
The practice of harpooning swordfish predates industrial scale fishing or “long line fishing” where thousands of baited hooks hang on floated lines that can be more than 30 miles long. The long-line hooks do not discriminate between the type and size of fish caught and experts say the practice in the past has depleted swordfish stocks in some places.  International laws are now in place now to limit the catch of the long lines, and these fishermen are closely monitored.
Harpoon swordfish hunters, or “strikers,” take their catch at a much slower, more selective rate.  The strikers only go after the large fish that are well past breeding age and avoid baby swordfish in the breeding grounds.  The fish are then delivered fresh daily to markets and restaurants in New England. The selective practice presents no threat to swordfish stocks.
While swordfish are found worldwide they are only in season in New England during the summer when the water is warmer.   According to research, the big fish tend to congregate where ocean waters have sharp temperature breaks (above 58°F) and where strong ocean currents meet.  This creates a turbulent environment where there is abundant food.  Along with the strikers, sport fishermen also ply these waters with rod and tackle seeking the big Swordfish.

Whether broiled, baked, grilled or on a kabob, fresh from the ocean swordfish is a favorite of first-time seafood initiates as well as seafood connoisseurs. Swordfish has a meaty texture and mild flavor.  Swordfish also offers a low-fat, low-calorie healthy choice for all seafood lovers.  Fresh swordfish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals that are good for the heart.
Atlantic Harpoon Swordfish, fresh off the dock, is among the most popular Boston and Cape Cod seafood treats. This time of summer, many downtown restaurants feature day-boat swordfish steaks. In fact, the delicious fish is almost as popular as a specialty steak in Boston steakhouses. 


The most popular fresh summer swordfish recipe  is also the simplest. Marinated and grilled.
Here is a great recipe for a one-pound, 1 ½ -inch thick fresh swordfish steak.

Mix in a bowl:
  • a teaspoon of fresh chopped basil,
  •  ½ cup of olive oil,
  •  a small clove of chopped fresh garlic,
  •  fresh ground pepper to taste.
  •  If desired, a dash of fresh lime or lemon juice may be added.
Coat the steak and let marinate for one to two hours.  Cook on a medium-high grill for four minutes on each side, or until firm to the touch.  Only flip the steak once.  Do not overcook as the swordfish will get dry very quickly.  Remove from the grill and let stand for one minute before partitioning. Leave the skin on when grilling to help keep the fish moist but remove to partition and serve.
Today fresh Atlantic swordfish can be shipped overnight by a Cape Cod online seafood retailer anywhere in the United States.  This means anyone – from Florida to Kansas – can enjoy delicious swordfish that only 24 hours earlier were swimming in the clean, crisp ocean waters off Cape Cod.
Is it dinner time yet?
© LobsterOnline.Com 2017

Enjoy a Traditional Steamer Clam Recipe From Cape Cod

The Maine lobster clambake with freshly harvested steamer clams is one of those wonderful summertime dinners that locals enjoy up and down the New England coast. But for many people, a basket of freshly cooked steamers can be a fabulous dock-side lunch or dinner all by themselves.

The steamer is a soft shell clam known by many names. Steamers can be called the Ipswich clam, the long neck clam, the belly clam, the fried clam and other not so flattering terms. The shell is soft enough to break with your fingers. Steamers are readily identified because the long neck, or snout, stick out of the shell. They are harvested from saltwater sandbars and saltwater mud flats. The clams live in the sand just below the surface and are famous for “squirting” water when people walk by, making them easy to find.

Freshly cooked steamer clams on a plate
Fresh soft shell steamer clams

The best soft shell clams are still harvested by hand and are usually available year round, except when the flats freeze. They are sold daily to markets and stored in mesh bags in large, airy coolers. Although easy to prepare, it is important to follow some basic steps.

Ipswich Steamer Clams Recipe Popular in Boston and Cape Cod

Traditional soft shell steamer clam recipe serving two to four people

Cleaning the Clams:

At least one hour before cooking, place the clams in a clean sink (no soap or other residue) and just cover the clams with cold water. Add two drops of white vinegar to the water to help the clams expel any sand they have in their shells. Stir the clams gently and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain the sink flushing any sand residue. This time without vinegar, cover the clams with cold water again, gently stir, and let soak for five minutes. Drain. Discard any clams with broken shells.

steamer kettle for lobster and clams
Traditional kettle for steaming clams

Ingredients:

White vinegar
Four pounds of freshly dug steamer clams
2 large stalks of fresh celery
2 medium yellow onions
1 stick salted butter
1 fresh lemon

Steamer Clam Preparation:

Clean steamer clams with white vinegar as described
Cut celery stalks into two inch pieces
Cut onions into two inch quarters
Cut lemon into ¼ size wedges
Melt butter and place in ramekins
Add water to large steaming kettle or lobster pot 1/4th of the way up

Cooking Steamers:

Bring to roiling boil
Place steamers, onions and celery into pot at the same time and cover
Gently stir clams twice
Cook for 12 minutes until the clam shells open (do not overcook)

Serving:

Drain broth from the kettle into ramekins.
Squeeze lemon wedges into melted butter
Remove clams from kettle and discard any unopened shells
Serve immediately

Note: Dip to wash clam in broth and then use the fingers to remove the membrane covering the neck. Most people will eat the entire clam, while some leave the neck. Dip clam in the melted butter and enjoy.  As an aside, don’t forget that day boat scallops are now in season and can be ordered for home delivery.

Recipe courtesy Aimee C. Nichols, private chef.

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2017