Sun, Surf & Lobster
I just got back from a recon trip to the beatific Îles de la Madeleine, a small group of islands in Quebec’s maritime region, somewhere out in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I’m planning on doing a food feature for one of the magazine’s spring issues, using the island’s bounty of fresh locally-harvested fish and seafood (including clams, scallops, mussels), plus, local lamb and beef, as my inspiration for the recipes. But mostly the lobster. Lots and lots of lobster.
I arrived on the islands at the tail end of this year’s bountiful lobster season and enjoyed the sweet, tender crustaceans every which way. I swear, they eat the stuff like peanut butter! But the news isn’t all good: lobster stocks are high but demand is down, so the local fisherman are only earning about half of what they normally would for their daily lobster hauls. Then again, they get to live on Îles de la Madeleine, so I can’t really feel sorry for them. It really is one of the most stunning places I have ever been — the fresh lobster being the cherry on the island sundae.
Lobster is available everywhere, even at rustic corner stores.
The landscape changes from flat and grassy to jagged red cliffs to sand dunes and sprawling beaches. Think of it as P.E.I. taken to the nth degree.
The seaside homes are painted in a rainbow of colours, which make you happy just looking at them.
I ate lobster at least twice a day, tucked into everything from a simple diner sandwich sided by poutine, to a lobster pot pie, a lobster stew, Thai soup and more. (And then more after that.)
I even had it straight up: Fresh-boiled.
I returned home inspired, and cooked up some lobsters of my own. Here’s a how-to:
Step 1: Fill a very large stockpot with enough water to cover the lobsters, but don’t add the lobsters yet!
Step 2: For that fresh-from-the-Îles de la Madeleine flavour, add a 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of cold water, then bring to a boil over high heat.
Step 3: Remove the elastic bands from the claws of your fresh lobsters, and put live lobsters headfirst into the boiling water. (If you’ve bought different sized lobsters, place the largest ones in first.) Allow the water to boil again, and then turn the heat down to medium. Cover the pot and let the lobsters boil for 10 minutes for the first lb., and add 3 minutes for each additional lb. thereafter. For example, a 1-1/4-lb. lobster should boil for 11 minutes, and a 2-lb. lobster should boil for 13 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water and enjoy!
Tip: If you’re not eating them right away, you must stop the cooking process or the lobsters will overcook and become rubbery. To do this, place the hot lobsters in a sink full of ice cold, salted water. When cool, drain and store the lobsters in the fridge.