Pun intended, while we’re on a roll from the last post, a review of McDonald’s Lobster Roll, now let’s take a look at Ken’s 4th of July New England Lobster Bake. I suppose you could say this being an untitled installment of “Ken’s Kitchen”.
According to Ken, a reader and friend of mine, who is originally from Rhode Island, he and his late wife used to make this every 4th of July celebration there. They’d invite a whole bunch of friends to their house, cooking up dozens of fresh live North Atlantic cold water lobsters and hundreds of clams in this classic New England style.
So now that Ken has been living in Hawaii for years now, owning a beautiful home out in West Oahu, he often buys his seafood from Seafood City out in WaipaHOO. There, being they offer many types kept alive in tanks, including the Kona Cold Lobster. Oh, that would also be pronounced “See’pood Cee’tee”. lol
See, Kona Cold Lobster are actually in origin the most highly prized North Atlantic Cold Water Maine Lobsters. How this happens is, they’re hatched there on the northeast coast of New England in Maine, then flown to Hawaii as “chix” or “crickets” (baby lobsters). They’re then raised in ice cold ocean water tanks at the Kona Cold Lobster facility on the Kona coast on the Big Island, where the water is pumped in from many fathoms deep off the coastline there. So their holding tanks water is not only the proper cold temperature, but also very clean and healthy for the baby Maine lobsters to thrive and grow to adults over a pound right here in Hawaii. Then they’re distributed to restaurants and stores all around the state who have tanks to keep and sell them live, as does Seafood City. Doing it this way makes it economically feasible for the Hawaii market to enjoy the superior, rich sweet flavor of North Atlantic Cold Water Lobster in the freshest, best way possible.
As a New England native, not only has Ken been eating many lobsters his entire life, but he’s also worked in a commercial kitchen processing them in his younger years. With that experience, he explained that like crabs, especially lobsters once they are killed, enzymes in the raw flesh within the shell immediately begin breaking it down, turning it into mush, and quickly spoiling. So once you kill a lobster, you have to immediately cook it, obviously why most choose to throw them live into a boiling or steaming pot of water, which they claim is a humane way of doing it. Then you have to eat it immediately or freeze it, as the enzymes will go to work again start spoiling it, even after it’s cooked, as it begins cooling down to room temperature.
Moving along to the Lobster Bake, above Ken has one live 1¼ pound Cold Water Lobster, which is called a “chicken” at that size. Above 1¼ to 1½ pounds they’re called “quarters”; over 1 ½ pounds, they’re called “halves”, and over 3 pounds, they’re called “jumbo”. See the entire lobster sizing chart here. He’s also got a pound of relatively large sized Manila Clams.
I asked Ken if the age and/or size of the Lobster affects the sweetness and overall taste and quality of its meat, and interestingly he said in most cases no it does not. It mostly matters how it’s kept while alive (the water is clean and of course very cold) and how you cook it.
He also pointed out when you select a live lobster in a tank, always choose the one with all of its antennae. If their antennae are missing or appear broken off, chances they were being cannibalized by other lobsters in the tank. This happens when lobsters are kept too long, where they begin literally feeding on each other, starting with the antennae. What this essentially means is that lobster is old in the tank and worn out, and chances are its flesh will taste as such. As such, obviously you want to choose a lobster with all its body parts intact, including of course both claws as well.
The rest of the ingredients for his New England Lobster Bake include Gouvea Linguica (Portuguese Sausage), a Boar’s Head Pork & Beef Frank (the unpackaged sausage), fresh peeled garlic, red potato, white onion, corn on the cob, unsalted butter, clam juice and a can of Bud Light beer. Also note from his complete set, he’s his Global Chef’s Knife from Japan, one of the best quality, sharpest kitchen knives money can buy.
Ken used his 6-liter Fagor Pressure Cooker with the steamer basket and lid to steam-cook it, the way Lobster Bakes are done the conventional way. Ken explained that the Lobster Bake was actually adopted from the Native Americans, who used to do something similar to this, except, they used to do it in an underground earth oven, similar to the Hawaiian Imu, using wood and rocks for the fire and heat retention, and seaweed to create the steam.
The steaming liquid consists of the can of Bud Light beer, clam juice, garlic and sea salt.
In the pot over the cooking liquid goes the steamer basket first layered with the cut-up red potatoes, onion, Linquica Portuguese Sausage and Boar’s Head pork & beef frank.
Topping it off is the whole lobster, clams and corn on the cob. Cover and steam until the clams open up, lobster is cooked through nice ‘n red and the potatoes and corn on the cob are tender. Note he steamed this conventionally on his induction heat stove top using a glass lid, not the pressure cooker lid. Also notes that he sets the heat on medium-high so that the clam juice-based cooking liquid boils over and infuses with the food in the steamer basket. So you’re getting all them tasty drippings from the lobster, clams and sausages, plus the clam juice, beer, garlic and salt, all getting happy happy with each other. Woot-woot!
In the mean time, Ken makes the clarified butter that will be used for dippin’ by melting it and removing the milk fat by skimming and spooning it out. This is also known in India as “Ghee“.
Everything’s pau cook and lookin’ ono! Ken notes that he saved the clam juice cooking liquid and poured it over the clams, sucking it up with a spoon as broth. Oh yes!
Voila, 4th of July New England Lobster Bake dinner is served! Dang, that looks so ono! And sure enough, Ken said it was! I can just imagine the combination of the savory and spicy sausages with the rich taste of the lobster and briny meatiness of the clams, sweetness of the corn, the starchiness of the potato, all backed up by the super tasty clam juice cooking liquid poured over the clams and that luscious ghee for dippin’ ‘n drippin’. Heaven!
I’ve personally never ever had a Lobster Bake before, thus I am SO doing this as a special occasion treat on the next big holiday! Looks like I missed National Lobster Day, which was June 15th, and I don’t want to wait for next 4th of July. Looking at my calendar, the next major national holiday will be Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 2017. So I’ve pinned that day for my very own New England style Lobster Bake. Sounds like a plan, Stan! Hop on the bus, Guss. Gotta’ be coy, Roy. Dip Lobster in Ghee, Lee, to set your self free. There must be 50 ways to eat some Lobster. lol
Following are some of the fresh seafood offerings from Seafood City in WaipaHU! that Ken snapped pics of.
Langostino Red Shrimp
Langustino Red Shrimp, shown to scale how big they are compared to Ken’s hand… and just $7.99 per pound. Sweet!
Along with the live Cold Water Lobster, Ken also bought a couple pounds of them Langustino Red Shrimp, which he plans to simply saute in white wine, butter and garlic, ala North Shore Shrimp Truck style. Sounds good!