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Drawn butter for lobsters and clams - a tip

I'm a Mainer by birth and have eaten lobster and steamed clams all of my life. While in Maine this summer we had another Mainer over for lobster and clams and served the obligatory little cup of drawn butter. I was well into my meal, when she asked for some cider vinegar. I gave her the bottle and she added some to her butter. I tried it and it's *really* good. It cuts the richness of the butter just enough. Is this news? I'd never seen this done before.

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  1. It is very good. My mom (not a "Mainer" but lives in Maine) prefers cider vinegar with ginger to butter. So we often have both and you're right it is very tasty.

    While maybe not "news" I don't think a lot of people do it. But as any good "fish" cook will tell you, a little acid with seafood is always a good thing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thimes

      We always put cider vinegar on our crabs. It's yummy. Not the same as lemon for us.

    2. Just add the lemon to the butter that you would/have squeezed on the meat instead.

      3 Replies
      1. re: FunCal

        That's a possibility, but I like squeezing the lemon directly on my shellfish because citrus tastes slightly dulled when it's slightly warmed, perhaps because of its fragility. Think of the difference between pasteurized, bottled lemon juice as opposed to fresh. I can imagine enjoying the cider vinegar in the butter because I like the flavor of it and it would cut the richness and add the desired acid. I don't have any evidence to back up this statement, but cider vinegar is more stable since it survives a long time without refrigeration stands up to warmth better than the unstable, fresh citrus juice.

        1. re: FunCal

          I do this too. I squeeze lemon on my seafood and then also add more lemon to my butter. I like lots of lemon with boiled/steamed seafood.

          1. I've always added a bit of Worcestershire Sauce to my butter and it adds a nice little zing!

            1. I'm from Maryland and a lot of the locals like to dip their crab in vinegar. Lately I have seen people dipping their crab in vinegar, then in butter so it's kind of the same deal.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bitsubeats

                I get down to Annapolis maybe a half-dozen times a year to go sailing. When we go it is always a blue crab bonanza. And, sure enough, a number of seafood houses around the Chesapeake will give you little cups of both drawn butter and cider vinegar to dip your crab into.

                Both are good. Combining the two - cider then butter - is also good. But I like a little cup of Old Bay as well, so I can give my crab meat a little extra dusting.

                1. re: MonMauler

                  Yep! Everyone has to have a cup of old bay on the side or sprinkled over the vinegar. I feel that the crabs have enough spice on them so I forgo the old bay and just stick with the vinegar. I know that a lot of people prefer white, but I usually stick with apple cider.

                  Great, now I want crabs (:

              2. Growing up as a chinese kid, we used to buy crabs by the bushel from the Philly Italian market. We'd then have all our family friends over and steam big pots of the crabs. While the kids would use melted butter, the adults would all use black vinegar mixed with shredded ginger. I used to love it. So not quite the same as what you've said, but a similar concept...

                5 Replies
                1. re: FattyDumplin

                  Oh thank you. What a great idea. I'm going to try this next time I can get crabs. I have had a bottle of black vinegar in the pantry since last winter and didn't know what to do with it.

                  (speaking of which; I think I'll start a new thread about the vinegar and any suggestions.)

                  1. re: FattyDumplin

                    Thank you so much; I'm a fool for ginger. I'll definitely try this! Come to think of it, I dip boiled shrimp in vinegar with lots of black pepper, instead of cocktail sauce!

                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                      Also used in a Shanghainese dish: prawns with zhen4 jiang1 black vinegar for dipping.

                      1. re: limster

                        I just came back to give the exact name of hte vinegar but got beaten to the punch! Yes, the zhen jiang is the specific vinegar we used to use. It's also the same dipping sauce (or very similar) use for dipping shanghai soup dumplings into.

                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                          BTW, friends introduced me to another black vinegar from Shan1 Xi1 (iirc), that was also good with pork dumplings/shui3 jiao3. Seemed a little similar to the Zhenjiang one, but don't know much about it beyond one try -- was wondering if other chowhounds know more about it.