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Lobster lovin’

lobster-lovin

Legend has it that ‘Valentine’s Day’ is named after St. Valentine, a martyred 3rd century Roman who was jailed for failing to denounce Christianity. After falling in love with his jailers daughter he left her a farewell note signing it ‘From your Valentine’. The date of his death (yes, you guessed it, February 14th) eventually became the date for exchanging love messages and flowers, though these days it is more likely to be marked by the fact you can’t get a table in a decent restaurant without 3 months notice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hopeless romantic but there is one night of the year I resolutely won’t eat out ‘a deux.’ The very notion of a ‘Valentine’s Night Set Menu’ is my idea of hell and a whole restaurant full of tables for two sends shivers down my spine.

 

I don’t believe that food itself can be romantic as I’m sure it has more to do with the company & the setting, but putting aside obvious clichés, like oysters, some things lend themselves to an evening spent alone with your loved one more than others.

 

If someone were to seek the fastest way to my heart they could do worse than to cook me a really good shepherds pie, but frankly I wouldn’t suggest you try that one on the 14th, unless of course you want to sleep in the spare room for the night.

 

If you really want to pull out all the stops for a Valentine’s dinner then delve deep into your pocket and buy a couple of really good Scottish lobsters. Lobster is still one of the true luxury foods left and due to its consistently high price it looks like staying that way; something to be truly savoured & enjoyed once in a blue moon. There is one thorny issue that often prevents people from cooking lobster at home and that is the fact that many recipes require you to cook a live one. Now, you are either going to be squeamish about this or you’re not, so lets get the nuts & bolts of how best to do it out of the way: The RSPCA recommend that in order to cause minimum stress to the lobster (and for that matter, to you) you simply put the lobster in the deep freeze for a couple of hours prior to cooking it. The idea behind this is that the subzero environment puts the lobster into a comatose state from which it has no chance to recover before it is cooked. Simple & painless for both of you.

 

Arguments rage as to the best way to get your (not inconsiderable amount of ) money’s worth out of the little nippers and I have to confess that I fall very firmly into the ‘less is more’ camp. As far as I’m concerned, any dish that involves smothering these precious little gems in cheese sauce is nothing short of a sackable offence, so the less said about that the better.

 

Here I’ve offered two recipes, which despite the fact that one is deliciously trashier than the other are set apart by one detail – one requires you to cook a live lobster while the other uses cooked lobster. This way, if you really can’t face the live option you can still enjoy a lobster supper on the 14th and raise a glass to St. Valentine & the jailers daughter.

 

Grilled Lobster and Chips for 2

Ingredients:

2 X 500-600gm live lobsters (frozen for 2 hours)

2 portions of chips

Melted butter

 

Method:

 

First, get your dining companion to go to the chippy – by the time they return you’ll have done your bit. Plunge your lobsters into a large pot of boiling salted water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then split in half lengthways and crack the claws with a swift blow from a rolling pin. This can be done ahead of time if you like.

 

When you are almost ready to eat, pre-heat an overhead grill to a medium high setting. Place the lobsters on a tray, brush liberally with melted butter and grill, flesh side up for 6 minutes. Serve with chips & mayonnaise.

 

Spaghetti with lobster – serves 2

 

Ingredients

 

1 X 500gm lobster, cooked & picked

250gm spaghetti

1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

method:

 

Start by cooking the spaghetti in lots of generously salted boiling water. It should take about 10 minutes. Chop the lobster tail meat into small pieces and flake the rest.

Next, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic & parsley. Fry for 2 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Finally, add the lobster meat and fry to heat through. When the spaghetti is cooked ‘al dente’, drain & toss into the sauce, mixing well to combine. Season with salt & plenty of black pepper and turn into warmed bowls.

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