"Lobster at Home," by Jasper White

Pros: Imaginative recipes; you can make most recipes without live lobsters; information on handling lobsters
Cons: Lobster is expensive!
Rating: 4 out of 5

First published 8/21/2000

“Lobster at Home” is the perfect cookbook for lobster-lovers, and maybe even for a few of the rest of us too. I have to admit, while I’ve always enjoyed lobster it was never at the top of my list. To my fiancee, however, lobster is one of life’s perfect foods. So we picked up a copy of this marvelous cookbook.

This is a very useful cookbook for anyone who isn’t quite sure how to tackle lobster. There’s lots of info such as how long to steam your lobster, and how many ounces of meat you’re likely to get out of what size of lobster.

What? You Don’t Like Wiggling Lobster Guts?

I know, a lot of people avoid lobster because they’re squeamish. They don’t like cutting up or cooking something that’s still alive. For you, there are plenty of recipes in this cookbook that just call for lobster meat. I don’t know about your grocery store, but mine handily carries little tubs of cooked lobster meat. If yours does too, then you may be able to enjoy lobster in the comfort of your own home without ever seeing a single death throe.

After you get through the gorgeous pictures (if they don’t make you hungry, nothing will), skip ahead to the New England-Style Lobster Chowder, or the Rhode Island Lobster Chowder, or the Lobster and Corn Chowder. I know, they call for both lobster broth and cooked lobster meat, the former of which you’re supposed to make from whole lobsters. Well, I’m here to tell you from experimentation and experience that if you use a different kind of broth (fish, clam, even chicken or vegetable), these dishes will still be just fabulous. You can use the aforementioned chart of lobster meat weight per lobster to figure out how much lobster meat to buy. So see? You don’t need to handle the live lobsters.

Oh, of course, you want more than just three recipes that you can make. No problem. How about the New England September Soup of Pumpkin, Sweet Corn and Lobster? Maybe Lobster Pizza, or Spaghetti with Lobster, Tomatoes and Capers, or Pappardelle with Lobster, Mushrooms, Shallots, and Cream. No matter how many times you hear chefs saying that you really need to start with live lobsters, using the store-bought meat, as long as you use it quickly and don’t keep it around for days, works just fine. Okay, so you won’t be making the stuffed baked lobster, or maybe one or two other things. That hardly makes this cookbook useless to you.

For Those of You with Strong Stomachs (the Rest Should Skip to the Next Section)

I’m a horror writer. I have a certain perverse fascination for things that I could throw into stories. When we made the baked stuffed lobster, I gained such a thing.

Did you know that lobster muscles, when freshly split open, will quiver violently if you salt and pepper them? Even stranger things can happen when you split live lobsters in half (I will never forget the sight of half a lobster trying to crawl away). Regardless, the baked stuffed lobster is one of the best recipes in this entire cookbook. We had this dish at Legal Seafood, but it wasn’t as good as the one in the cookbook – their stuffing tastes mostly like cracker, and this one has more to it than that.

Those of You Without Strong Stomachs May Rejoin Us Now…

If you have a strong stomach and don’t mind mucking with live lobsters, you can enjoy this cookbook to the fullest. But there are truly very few recipes that you can’t make by using pre-cooked lobster meat. Lobster Ravioli, Avocado and Lobster Salad with Toasted Almonds, Warm Green Salad with Lobster, Mineola Oranges & Citrus Vinaigrette, and so on. You’ll find appetizers, sandwiches, cold plates, main courses, and even a section on “Great Lobsters from Great Chefs.” The latter includes a Lobster Pad Thai, Lobster and Wild Rice Risotto, and the one I most look forward to: Emeril Lagasse’s “Emeril’s Portugese Lobster.”

I’m not a lobster fiend like my fiancee, but I look forward to every use of this cookbook. I know lobster meat is expensive, but these recipes make a heck of a way to celebrate holidays and other special occasions.


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Posted in Cooking, Reviews

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