HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it

Drawn butter for lobsters and clams - a tip

Pat Hammond Aug 30, 2011 04:44 PM

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.

  1. t
    thimes Aug 31, 2011 06:21 AM

    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
      jeanmarieok Aug 31, 2011 06:02 PM

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

    2. f
      FunCal Aug 31, 2011 06:45 AM

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: FunCal
        agoodbite Aug 31, 2011 07:27 AM

        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
          boogiebaby Aug 31, 2011 10:11 AM

          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. re: FunCal
            Karl S Sep 1, 2011 02:06 AM

            Or lime or tangerine/tangelo.

          2. j
            jarona Aug 31, 2011 11:33 AM

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

            1. bitsubeats Aug 31, 2011 11:53 AM

              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
                MonMauler Aug 31, 2011 01:40 PM

                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
                  bitsubeats Aug 31, 2011 08:44 PM

                  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. f
                FattyDumplin Aug 31, 2011 01:54 PM

                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
                  FunCal Aug 31, 2011 04:46 PM

                  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
                    Pat Hammond Sep 1, 2011 10:45 AM

                    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
                      limster Sep 2, 2011 02:04 AM

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

                      1. re: limster
                        FattyDumplin Sep 6, 2011 12:03 PM

                        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
                          limster Sep 6, 2011 03:37 PM

                          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.

                    2. pikawicca Aug 31, 2011 08:54 PM

                      I have never understood why anyone dips their lobster (or crab) in butter. The meat is so rich and flavorful that it doesn't need embellishment. I eat it straight up.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pikawicca
                        Pat Hammond Sep 1, 2011 10:20 AM

                        I'm in your camp when it comes to dipping lobster in butter, but I tried her butter with the vinegar with a nice bite of claw meat and it was good! I really liked it for my steamed clams too, and will continue to do that from now on.

                        1. re: Pat Hammond
                          buttertart Sep 1, 2011 01:00 PM

                          On a slightly different tack, mayonnaise with a bit of the black vinegar FattyDumplin mentions above is dynamite with cold lobster. Maybe a tb to 1/2 c mayonnaise. Or go all the way and make the mayonnaise with black vinegar.

                          1. re: buttertart
                            Pat Hammond Sep 1, 2011 03:58 PM

                            I prefer my lobster hot, but the height of decadence for me is a few leftover lobsters in the fridge. This won't happen again until next summer, and then I'm going to make use of this great tip! Thanks so much!

                            1. re: Pat Hammond
                              buttertart Sep 2, 2011 09:57 AM

                              Happy to help! And yes, that is (glorious) decadence.

                        2. re: pikawicca
                          mcf Sep 6, 2011 12:27 PM

                          I eat some both ways. I love butter on the tail meat, mostly... it's just beyond divine on that part in particular. I don't dip every bite, but just about when it comes to the tail. It's kind of like asking why some folks like milk chocolate and some like dark chocolate or <gasp> vanilla. :-)

                        3. m
                          mayt Sep 2, 2011 01:09 PM

                          I'm Chinese and the ginger and vinegar combination has been used in my family for generations. I've grown up eating fresh shellfish (dungeness crab, prawns/shrimp, lobster, crayfish) using a combination of rice wine vinegar and minced ginger, which now, is preferable to plain (and boring) drawn butter.

                          I find the black vinegar or Worcestershire to be a little too heavy on the palate when paired with freshly steamed shellfish. Rice wine vinegar lets the sweetness of the meat shine through. It's really delicious when you're also accompanying your shellfish feast with an aromatic wine.

                          Show Hidden Posts