23 September 2012

Food Lab 17: Lobster

At our last Food Lab, when we were thinking about the topic for our next lab, Mad Kitchen Scientist observed that lobster's cheap right now - well, not cheap, but cheaper than normal.

Decision made.

When we were at the Maine Avenue Fish Market, purchasing 4 monsters weighing it at over 4 pounds each, plus 4 smaller crustaceans (totaling over 25 pounds of lobster), we came up with the appropriate term for the amount of (over) purchasing we invariably do when we all shop together: "n absurdity." Yesterday, we purchased an absurdity of lobster. Needless to say, at $11 a pound, this was probably the most we've ever spent on the raw ingredients.

We started out the day planning to make lobster thermidor, using Julia's classic recipe, lobster bisque, and looking to compare a straight steam with a partial steam and then finishing on the grill.

Here's what we learned:

Much like with pizza, grilling was gilding the lily. Also it made the tails a little tough. Tasty, but tough.

None of us had any problems dumping the live lobsters into the pot. Apparently, we're a bunch of heartless bastards.

Complicated recipes may be a bad idea at food lab. We missed several key steps in the thermidor recipe. It was still totally edible, but not nearly as transcendent as I was expecting. And the lobster bisque, well, it needs work. We have a decent amount left over, so we can mess around with it more, but it's way too thick and not as flavorful as I'd hoped: rich, but bland.

Chef Spouse has been doing an official cooking class for about two months now. He recently learned a secret ingredient for savory dishes: 100% cacao chocolate. It really does make EVERYTHING taste better.

Bigger lobsters look really impressive, but they don't taste any better, and they're hard to deal with - you need a BIG pot, and an actual hammer to get the meat out of the shells. 

Bash open your cooked lobsters OUTSIDE. Chef Spouse had to clean the kitchen ceiling today. Not joking.

(Those last two may be related.)

Even though the recipes mostly didn't turn out as expected, though, it's impossible to really mess up lobster.

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