My earliest memory of Twitter was when I read how actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) was among one of the first celebrities to master Twitter in early 2009. He made it cool and pretty soon the country took to Tweeting then not before long it became a social media global phenomenon. I joined in April 2009, but did not master it till snowed in during Snowmageddon of 2010. The rest is Twitter history!
On March 20, 2012, I joined #Foodiechats for the first time thanks to my good friend, Suzie Linville (@SuzieLin) who I met on Twitter in 2010, thought I would really enjoy the chat. I have now been a regular every Monday night at 8:00 p.m., plans permitting. This past year I had the honor for #Foodiechats founder, Steve Green (@steveGOgreen), to ask me to be an Ambassador.
In on honor of National Lobster Day on Sunday, June 15, 2014, Steve put a question at the bottom of his newsletter a few weeks prior and those who Tweeted a response fast enough would win something. Coupon for a @LobsterFromME lobster in a store near me? Lobster cookbook from Maine? No, I won a real “live” lobster that I was asked to come up with a recipe for and then promote my dish via social media.
Garth, as I named him, arrived on Wednesday, June 11th and my apartment complex kept him in their fridge till I could rescue him. The following evening I planned to prepare my dish. I had a challenging dish in mind that I knew would be unique and a mix of flavors and textures.
As I peaked into the box, gently picking up the blue ice pack and white foam that was used to cushion the lil guy on his journey from Maine to my studio apartment in our nation’s capital, his left eye stayed stagnant while his right looked up at me. I pet him with one finger and quickly covered him again and back into the fridge he went! Then begin prepping the side dishes. “I had a live lobster in my fridge,” I thought. Focus on the sauces.
My friend Julie was on her way with the rum that would be added to the mango rum reduction. I first prepped the avocado cream sauce that would be one of the layers beneath the lobster tail. Next, boiled the cous cous adding fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, saffron strands, olive oil, and the simple key ingredients known none other than salt and pepper.
Being the music lover I am, I had my Summer Stuff Spotify list playing while I prepped the sides. Grooving to some personal favorites by April Smith and the Great Picture Show, Sublime, 311, OAR, Slightly Stoopid, and The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds) as I added dashes of cumin or zested lemon into the cous cous.
Once Julie arrived, I began to prep the mango rum reduction. Champagne Mangoes are my personal favorite and I look forward to this time of year when they are in season. I slice the bottom so there is a flat surface and then use a pairing knife to slice the skin off in thin layers. By the time Julie arrived, I was ready to get another music list playing for the remainder of our prepping and then boiling the poor lobster.
Jazzy Stuff was the next Spotify list to play that included Jamie Cullum, Pink Martini, Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Robbie Williams. The ideal chill emotive style music to have in the background as I focused on tackling a rum reduction sauce for the first time. “There is a live lobster in my fridge,” I kept thinking in the back of my mind. Focus on the reduction sauce.
Two blonde-haired California girls who became friends in Washington, D.C. four years ago were about to have an epic seafood experience! One with events to occur that they did not foresee…
The sauces were done and set aside to be warmed once the lobster was ready to plate. The largest pot I had is what I use for my Italian tomato pasta sauce and figured it would hold Garth. Added the salt to the water and waited for it to boil. It was time. I have to admit, I was nervous, yet excited. Would he aim for my nose with his pincher or crusher claw once I snipped off his rubber band prior dropping him into his boiling fate? Would he squirm from my grip and jump to the ground scurrying with his eight legs on my wooden floor, tail swinging from side to side headed for my door?
Garth was heavier than I expected and after researching on YouTube I learned to use my left hand to hold behind his head with a firm grip. Julie and I said our thanks your to Garth for giving his life for our first live lobster cooking experience.
She then got back into photographer mode snapping pictures as I began to snip off the bands. Steam was rising from the pot and it was now or never. “Do it, Lisa!” I thought, “YouTube said headfirst so it’s quick.” Head first went Garth only to realize he was too long and big for my pot! Oh crap!
Wooden spoon in hand, I try to maneuver his tail underneath his body, water splashing everywhere, tail sticking well out of the pot, Julie and I screaming half out of humor and half our of pure worry, and doing a jump dance not the happy dance kind of jig. I pause a second once I realize he stopped, about to try again to maneuver his tail when he starts pushing with his claws to jump out, tail rising higher from the pot, water splashing, small flames climbing the pot as we make girlie noises, more small jumps, till finally I manage to tuck his tail under. Silence as we look at each other, hearts racing, and now in hysterics over what just happened. Bittersweet.
Lobsters boil for only 10 minutes and then need to rest on a plate for five minutes allowing the meat to absorb moisture from the shell. While the lobster rested I began to plate the dish. On a dish I first placed a circular layer of the lemon saffron cous cous followed by a smaller circle of avocado cream sauce.
When the time was up I flipped Garth over to learn he was a she (learned on YouTube). Garth became Cassie. Snapped off each claw from the base of the body, separated the tail from the body and this is when it got tricky. I did not have the right kitchen tool, so I improvised. I attempted to use a fork to push the meat out but this was not happening. Scissors came to mind to cut down the underbelly of the tail. With my left hand I held the tail and my right washing the scissors for which I should have asked Julie to do instead since I cut my thumb. Running to rinse off the cut and wrap it in a band aide so I could get back to the tail, the scissors were as success! I slid the beautiful red tail from the outer shell and set it over the layered sides. The icing on the dish was to drizzle the mango rum reduction sauce in a zig-zag over the lobster.
For this dish I bought a bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale and Oberon Ale along with a bottle of King Estate’s ’13 Acrobat Pinot Gris from Eugene, OR. In my research I learned the Pinot Gris from Oregon paired better than Italian Pinot Grigio since they were lighter with more subtle fruit notes and more apt to pair with seafood dishes.
We paired the dish first with the Pinot Gris and loved it right away since it helped to keep the mango notes from front, middle to finish on the palate. The Oberon over powered the dish and all the flavors were lost after one sip. Sam Adams, while better still over powered the dish. Wine won!
Cooking has always been a passion of mine and I love to take on challenging dishes, but this is the first dish that put up a fight–literally! I consider this my best dish to date and look forward to coming up with dishes just as tantalizing or even more so!
Happy National Lobster day, friends! Cheers!