Lobster prices are still on the low side, and here in New England they've been showing up on sale with some unusual frequency. Last week, Market Basket supermarkets on Massachusetts' North Shore were selling live lobsters for $3.99 a pound, and this weekend Shaw's supermarkets in Connecticut were featuring a 3-day special with live chicken lobsters (that is to say, 1½-pounders) for $4.88 a pound.
At any rate, they're cheap enough that instead of being an occasional treat, I'm able to use them as an ingredient in a way that hasn't been possible in years. We've been taking advantage of that recently. Last night, for example, we made lobster cakes.
If you're already familiar with my crab cake recipe, you already have the basics. But lobster and crab, despite their similarities, are very different in taste and texture, and call for a different mix of seasonings.
Makes 6 cakes
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lobster tomalley (if you don't have or don't like tomalley,
-- you may substitute another tablespoon of mayo for it.)
½ teaspoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon white wine or sake
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon (heaping) paprika
2 slices of white bread, grated to crumbs
4 cups of lobster meat (that's about what you'd get from 4
-- "chicken" lobsters - 1 ½ pounders)
Butter for frying
Whisk the egg, mayonnaise, tomalley, mustard, and sake together until smooth. Add coriander, salt, celery salt, and paprika, and whisk until smooth.
In a large bowl, toss the crumbs with the lobster meat until they are well-combined, then pour the egg mixture over all and stir until evenly moistened.
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or baking parchment and sprinkle it well with panko crumbs.
Form the mixture into six patties, either by hand or by using a biscuit cutter as a form. As each patty is formed, place it on the panko crumbs on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little more panko on the top of each patty as well. Slide the cookie sheet into the fridge and chill for about an hour or so to let the cakes "set." (This prevents them from falling apart when you fry them.)
Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a hot frypan or griddle and brown the lobster cakes on both sides until they are a rich golden brown and heated all the way through. Serve with a garden salad and corn on the cob.
As delicious as these are for a summer supper, I was surprised at how good they are cold the next day - good enough that I would deliberately make them ahead, chill them, and serve them as a light lunch with fresh garden tomato wedges and cucumber slices on the side.
A note about lobster tomalley:
The tomalley is the soft greenish stuff up in the lobster body; it's the lobster's liver and it has a strong and unique flavor that many people (including me) consider to be a delicacy. Too much tomalley probably isn't good for you - the US Food & Drug Administration and Health Canada both advise against eating too much of it because after all, it's liver, and the liver's function in the body is to remove toxins - and therefore, those toxins tend to become concentrated in the liver.
In this recipe, the tomalley is used as a seasoning, and the amount works out to about half a teaspoon per lobster cake (far below the FDA or HC guidelines.) It gives the lobster cakes a richer, more satisfying flavor. But if you're fretful about eating tomalley, or you just think it's too gross to put in your food, feel free to omit it and add an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise.
For more information about lobsters and tomalley, visit The Lobster Queen.