Smoking Fresh Lobster
- ajs May 5, 2006 07:11 PM
Subject line says most of it. I have been gifted with a couple of live Maine lobsters. I am thinking of the slice through head method to kill them quickly, followed by steaming, and then pulling out the meat and smoking it over apple or maybe hickory or lilac.
I am inclined to do this because I don't see much smoke penetrating the shell, and I don't want to Weber the unfortunates to death.
I've never even heard of smoking lobster (they're way too dear here on the left coast for much experimenting and I like them barely cooked anyway) so I did a little googling. Seems like you'd want to barely blanch them, stop the process with an ice bath, then smoke for only a few minutes. Doesn't seem worth the effort but I'd love to know what kind of success you have with this.
My b-i-l used to put whole lobsters on the Weber to smoke them lightly and they were fantastic. I think he used to steam them enough to kill them, and then finish them off on the grill. The dry heat made the flavor more intense and the aroma was wonderful. Something about that little bit of smokiness with the drawn butter was magic. Most of the smoke was probably what was on the shells that rubbed off on your hands and was transmitted to the meat that way, but it was always a primal experience.
Christine, here's what happened:
I boiled them for five minutes in water with some Thyme, a package of Zatarain's crab boil, and a quartered lemon, then gave them a plunge in a pot of cold tap water.
I shelled one, and tossed the meat with a little olive oyl, smoked paprika, and smoked sea salt.
I enthusiastically cracked the claws and tail of the other, but did nothing further to it.
Put the whole mess in a basket, put the basket in the Weber, with a small indirect fire that I covered thoroughly with well soaked apple wood chips. Fairly small pieces, to get the most smoke for a short time.
Smoked for fifteen minutes, pulled out a claw and a shelled claw, and tasted both.
Pulled everybody out of the smoke at that point, because the meat was getting seriously overdone.
Here is what I learned.
Boil for less than five minutes. Maybe as little as three?
Shell the meat. Cracking helps, and something, perhaps the shell, adds a bit of a nutty taste to the meat, but at the expense of smoke taste.
Smoking hardens the shell. I broke a perfectly good (and borrowed from a friend, whom I now owe a new ) Zyliss lobster cracker. I ended up using metal slipjoint pliers to finish extracting the meat.
Use small wood chips to get a lot of smoke in a little time. Probably ten minutes or less in the smoke will do the trick. It is surprisingly easy to overcook the spiny little rascals.
The oil was good as an anti-stick agent. If I do this again, I'll try butter. Probably with plenty of garlic and/or lemon mixed in.
I would also think about doing this only with tails, because of the labor involved for the return. But find tails on sale, and you could whip this up pretty easily. Add a little binder (chipotle mayo?) and a bit of garlic toast, and I think you'd have a hell of a snack. Maybe with Ninton Boru. Hm. Or make the Ninton Boru with lobster instead of garlic...
This morning, I took the lobster, tossed it with some swiss cheese, put it into an omlette, added hollandaise and asparagus, and had a fine breakfast before going to work. Though Mimosas or French 75s would have gone well with that dish. Just not with my employer. They're very provincial about drunken crewpeople. Who knew?
To those of you who, when I posed the problem said, 'why?', I really cannot put it any better than rworange, who said that everything smoked tastes better. I'd add that as I am also pondering ways to smoke bittersweet chocolate for torte and lava cakes, why wouldn't I try smoking lobster?
Or, as Chief White Halfoat says, in Catch-22, Why not?
Thanks much to everyone for the input. I had no idea this could incite such polarity in the responses! What fun!
And Melanie Wong, in re: the greasy shells. Seems to me that mesquite smoke might have a certain oily quality, so it wouldn't surprise me if the greasiness came purely from the smoke. Though given how quickly them crustaceans dry out in the smoker, perhaps he did oil them. Interesting. My shells were not greasy, but I did use apple, and no other treatment to the shells.
Anyway, once again my thanks to all!
Because everything smoked tastes better?
Whether or not you decide smoke shell on, you could smoke the shells separately and use to flavor a dish like a lobster bisque or risotto.
Here's an idea for smoking:
Here's a really simple one:
Mostly it is smoked lobster tails. Maybe crack the claws to allow the smoke to penetrate?
I have to agree with the Why? comment. I'd steam or bake them and use a chipotle or smoke flavored dipping sauce.
Grilled lobster is great, but I would not subject them to smoke. The Weber is the best choice.
My uncle used to prepare lobsters for grilling by putting them in a pan and pouring a bottle of (inexpensive) whiskey on them. When the coals were ready, he would split the marinated lobsters and cook them briefly on the grill. I remember asking him if the whiskey killed the lobsters, and he replied that it didn't, but that they were very happy by the time he dispatched them with the cleaver.
re: best chef
While I can't answer for the OP, googling smoked lobster turns up some amazing-sounding food.
There are restaurants known for this one of which won a James Beard award.
As one person said of one of those dishes
"We had to have his celebrated home-smoked lobster with lime butter, surely one of the sexiest, most succulent dishes of all time"
Or as another person said
"Ever had smoked lobster? Thought not. Best thing youll ever eat
Now I want smoked lobster.
I would think its too easy to overcook a lobster and overwhelming the delicate flavor by smoking it on a bbq-style smoker. I used a stove top smoker for about 10 min on a tail. Brushed w/ lemon butter before putting in pan. It was tender, not rubbery. It was juicy, buttery, with a little hint of the alder wood aroma. It was good.
Giving this old thread a bump. I think this sounds ridiculous. For two reasons (at least). First, lobster is so mild in flavor I think smoking would completely mask it. Secondly I think overcooking is almost a given. But, hmm, maybe steam and then low heat smoke for a bit. But, no, I don't think so. As someone here said, here on the Left Coast they're so dear I'd not risk it. But for you New Englanders????
re: c oliver
I've had cold smoked lobster several times from two different places in when I lived in Maine, and cold smoked crab. I became friends with the owners of both smokehouses and got their similar technique. Fantastic stuff. One was written up for their cold smoked crab claws in Saveur magazine.
The lobster/crab is first steamed or boiled until just cooked. Then it is blanched in ice water until cold. Shucked and then the meat is dried with paper towels (at this point it can be brushed with melted butter or left plain) and 30 minutes cold smoke (under 100 F) with fruit wood. Then put in vacuum seal bags with melted butter poured in to surround the meat. It is chilled, then the bags sealed once the butter is hard. Then let sit for a day in fridge for the smoke to even out, and used, or else frozen until ready to use.
To use the lobster is brought up to room temp. and eaten plain on a bed of lettuce/salad. Or made into a simple salad. The leftover butter helps make an amazing smoky lobster/crab bisque or chowder.
If you google "smoked lobster" you will find tons of recipes. But they tend to be hot smoked/grilled ones.
re: c oliver
Okay, now I'm gonna get real :) Safeway had lobsters for $5 each yesterday so got two. When I've cooked tails before, I've removed the bottom part of the shell (I'm sure there's a name for that), put some butter on and grilled for about eight minutes, shell side down. I'm not going to fully smoke them until done but was thinking about cold smoking, maybe just 20 minutes. Any thoughts? Bob is skeptical :)
re: c oliver
Just curious if you think smoked oysters or other types of smoked fish is a ridiculous concept too? Or is your real fear that you would spend good money on something that may not come out right?
Around my parts lobster is about $4-5 /lb during the summer, so lobster can become ubiquitous if you wanted it to be - making a different prep/flavor profile would be a nice change of pace. But I can see not wanting to experiment if you are paying $15+ /lb and lobster is a once in a blue moon thing for you.