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Fort on Lobster
One species’ demise is another species’ opportunity. It would seem that there has been an explosion in the lobster population around our coasts in recent years, particularly in Scotland and those parts of England flavoured by the North Sea. The cod have vanished, possibly forever, possibly just elsewhere, no one really knows. Our cod used to feed off baby lobster as if they were canapés.
There is something fabulous about the live, uncooked lobster, about its glistening deep blue colour speckled with white, about its formidable jointed armour, its massive claws and beetling antennae. It looks elemental and indestructible. But cooked, it takes on an almost feminine orangey-red as heat denatures the proteins that give them their protective colouring, revealing, apparently, their true colour given them by their diet.
We tend to eat more of them in summer because they’re easier to catch. Sluggish in winter, they liven up as the water warms, and move to shallower waters. Being bottom scavengers, they’re not hard to catch, but if you go diving for them, or lobster-potting on your account a) be careful of professional lobster fishermen, who tend to guard their fishing grounds pretty fiercely; and b) don’t take any lobo smaller that 87mm from tip to toe of the carapace; and c) if you catch a lady lobster with eggs stuck to her underside, let her go to make sure that there’ll be future lobster for future generations of lobster-eaters. In my view, a lobster about 400-600g is best. Larger than that, and they’re beginning to turn into muscly old brutes.
When it comes to killing them, just follow the instructions shown in the video on this fabulous website (I hope there is one), which follows generally accepted principles. If you drop the lobster into boiling water, it’s a) not very kind; and b) tends to toughen up the lobster flesh unless you’re very careful. Once cooked, do with them as you will.
NB. There are also Flat Lobsters, which you find in the Med; and Spiny Lobsters (or Crayfish) which you find in the Med, and which occasionally turn up around our southern coasts. These are easily distinguished; they have no claws. Of course, in this country, Crayfish usually signifies the freshwater crustacean, but I expect you know that.
Article written by Matthew Fort
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