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A Lobster Walks Into a Bar…..


“There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his gold in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket”

30 miles south of Cape Cod on American’s Eastern seaboard lies the island of Nantucket in the sate of Massachusetts. Originally a 17th century whaling port it is now the summer holiday destination of choice for wealthy Americans from the neighboring states of New York, New Hampshire and beyond. The population swells from 10,000 to over 50,000 in the summer months and this huge surge in visitors lends the island an air of a Ralph Lauren ad campaign sponsored by Jeep.

This area is renowned for it’s seafood and rightly so. Maine lobsters are up there with their Scottish cousins in terms of quality and abundance as well as a large variety of clams. Until coming here I had only ever cooked European clams such as French palourdes or English cockles. Delicious, but nothing like the little neck clams I had the other night which were shucked like oysters and eaten raw. The taste was somewhere between a very mild oyster (without so much of an iodine taste) and a cooked mussel but creamier.I loved them so much that the following night I served them still raw but tossed through hot linguine with parsley and garlic and the results were spectacular.

In the hot summer months clam and lobster bakes are common place on the beaches of Nantucket where large groups of friends gather to dig a pit in the sand, line it with seaweed and fill it with layers of lobsters, whole potatoes, local sweet corn, mussels and clams. The whole thing is covered with another layer of seaweed and set on fire. 60 minutes later you have perfectly cooked seafood with all the side dishes you need for a beach dinner to end all others.

lobsterbake-lowI realize that digging a pit on the beach may be easier said than done for many of us. Particularly if, like me, you live in Brighton which has pebbles where the sand should be. So, what else to do if you find yourself with a couple of lively (literally) lobsters? It may be easier to say what not to do to them first….


A – Over cook them

B – Subject them to a cheese sauce ( as my Italian friend said to me once “A cow can never swim with a fish”)

C – Buy frozen ones – they taste of nothing and are of dubious origins.

One of may favourite things to do with them is to combine them with cooked potatoes for a potato salad to remember. It’s an old Italian recipe I was given years ago and it works really well with good quality shrimps too.

Lobster and potato salad – serves 4

1 x 1 kg live lobster

4 x Medium sized waxy potatoes such as Charlotte

1 – 2 cloves of garlic depending how much you like it

1 x small bunch flat leaf parsley

The best extra virgin olive oil you can afford

The juice and zest of an unwaxed lemon

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt


First of all place the lobster in the deep freeze for 20 minutes to render it unconscious (According to the RSPCA this is the humane way to dispatch your lobster in case you were concerned). Then have ready a large pan of heavily salted water at a brisk boil. Boil the lobster for 20 minutes. When the time is up lift it out and allow to cool completely. Meanwhile cook the potatoes left whole and in their skins. Cook until completely cooked but not falling apart (about 10 minutes). Drain and cool in cold running water. When cool enough to handle slip the skins off and cut into rough chunks. They will break down a little more when the salad is mixed. Break open the lobsters straight down the middle and pull out the tail meat. Crack the claws and remove the meat. Discard the main bodies but if you are of a patient nature pick the meat from each of the legs. Chop the meat into similar sized chunks to the potatoes and combine in a bowl. Finely chop the garlic and parsley and add to the bowl. Now add enough olive oil to lubricate the whole lot. Add a good grinding of black pepper and a generous pinch of sea salt followed by lemon juice and zest. Serve at room temperature.

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