Valentine’s Day. We have never gone all out for painting the town pink with roses, chocolates, cards and stuffed animals, but beyond the chaotic supermarket isles of tat it’s still nice, I think, to celebrate an annual holiday of love and romance. Quite how this sentiment lead me to butchering live lobster, making homemade mayo and plunging sliced spuds into hot fat remains to be solved. However, here we are, with our valentine’s traditional supper of grilled lobster – always with butter, garlic, chips in some form or another.
Normally I’m organised enough to swing by the market en route to work (which in the past has led to colleagues complaining that they opened the kitchenette fridge and ‘something’ handed them the milk…). However, this year I wasn’t, nor did I call ahead to pre order so I was relieved to find a few east coast crackers still waiting for me when I arrived at Tarbett’s in Kirkgate Market in the mid afternoon. Clearly our tradition is catching on as the lobster crate was adorned with a biro scrawled sign reading ‘valentines special’ above a crude lobster/heart sketch added for good measure.
The best lobster we’ve ever had, was bought from fresh from the wholesalers at the top of the village of Staithes, North Yorkshire. Grilled in our cottage with lashings of garlic butter and washed down with prosecco in front of the open fire – perfection.
Good chips and good bread are the perfect combination for spanking fresh fish the world over. Whether you be crouched on the pier at Whitby, fingers drenched in vinegar or lunching on fresh squid and sardines on the Andalusian coast – crispy carbs are the way to go.
- 1.5-2kg lobster, live
- 1 lemon
- 25g butter
- sea salt
- two medium ‘fluffy’ potatoes, sliced to matchsticks
- two egg yolks, beaten
- olive oil
- 1 smal clove garlic, crushed to a paste
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche
GRILLED LOBSTER WITH CHIPS AND DIP
- Before despatching your lobster, chill in the freezer for about an hour until numb and sluggish.
- Meanwhile, add the egg yolks and garlic to a food processor and pulse at the highest setting. From the bottle, begin to add a tiny amount of oil at a time, building to a small but steady trickle. Keep a close eye to ensure you’re not adding oil so quickly that the mixture splits, and keep adding until you have the consistency of mayo. Beat in creme fraiche, add a pinch of salt and chill until needed.
- When you’re ready to butcher, lay your lobster on a solid surface covered with kitchen paper or a tea towel. Find the cross mark at the back of the head. Using a sharp chef’s knife, plunge downward and immediately outward between the eyes. Spin the board 180 degrees and half the lobster from head to tail. Remove the tomale (green matter, great beaten into the dip above or fried and spread on toast).
- Twist the large front legs from the body and crack the claws and knuckles with the back of your knife. This will allow heat to penetrate evenly and make them easier to eat later on.
- Light your bbq and bring to grilling temperature. Heat oil in a pan or fryer to 170°c and blanch your fries until just tender. Increase the head to 190°c.
- Meanwhile, melt your butter in a small pan before brushing over the lobster tails and claws. Season them both with salt.
- Add the claws to the grill and close the lid for 5 minutes before turning and then adding the body pieces, shell side down. Wait another five before turning the body pieces and cooking for another four. Remove the lobster and baste the tail portions with more melted butter.
- Flash fry your chips for a further minute or until crispy.