Smoking Fresh Lobster
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.