Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Lobster 'Experience'

Well today I ate lobster for the first time ever. It was something I'd always wanted to try and for some reason we didn't need many groceries this after only spending $30 on groceries instead of the usual $60, I spotted a couple of lobster tails and thought "Why the hell not?"

To be honest, at first I balked at the price. It was something like $25 for two smallish tails, but you only live once, so we decided to go ahead and buy them.

Cooking them was an adventure.

I opened the package (eventually, because there were no less than 3 layers of shrink wrap), and once I got it open, the first thing that popped into my head was "Oh my god, I'm about to cook half a face-hugger from 'Alien'".

Seriously... it's like my beer-brewing question. Who in the blue hell looked at one of these armored alien-arachnids and thought "Hey, I want to eat that!"

Well I'd heard they were absolutely delicious, so I went ahead and cooked them anyway.

Then came surprise number two. I knew that lobsters turn red as you cook them, but I wasn't expecting it to happen instantly the second they touched the water. In fact, I think I've found a whole new use for lobster, crack the shells into little bits and then you can chuck a fragment into your bath before you get in. If it turns red, it's too hot.

So I boiled the tailsfor the simple reason it looked like the easiest way to cook them. Baking and grilling you can mess up. It's really hard to mess up chucking the things into a pot of boiling water.

Ten minutes later, I fish (ha ha) them out of the water and put them on the plates. The instructions on the package then said to 'Split the shells evenly down the middle'.

Note to lobster producers: *It would be nice to explain how to split them. After 5 minutes with a collection of knives, forks and even a tenderizing hammer, I was fully convinced the damn shells could stop a .50 cal bullet.

In the end I settled for just ripping them open...and it took some doing.

The recipe recommended dousing them in lemon butter, and they even came with two small butter pats, but I really wanted to just taste the lobster first. What's the point in buying $35 dollars per pound seafood only to drown it in lemon juice and butter?

So I took a bit on my fork, put it in my mouth and chewed.

It tasted exactly like very bland, slightly tough chicken. In fact, I was surprised at just how meaty the texture was. I was expecting something like fish or shrimp, so slightly tough chicken was a real surprise.

As I reached the end of the tail, each bite got slightly more seafood like. The thick end is very bland, the small end has a lot more taste to it. Halfway through I tried it with lemon butter. It was a lot better...but I was definitely disappointed.

All my life I've heard people raving about how great lobster was, how delicious it was and how it was just about the most delicious food you could eat.

Those people are full of shit. Unless I had really, really bad lobster or completely messed up the cooking of it (which I doubt, the instructions said "boil for 5-7 minutes") I'd say it was mediocre at best.

Don't get me wrong, it was definitely good, but it strikes me as one of those foods that's only as good as its seasoning. Why the hell would anyone pay around $40 a pound for a food that's only good drowned in seasoning? I can buy shrimp or crab for less than a quarter of the price, and it tastes pretty much the same when covered in lemon butter.

Long story short, I love every seafood except squid or octopus. Steak is much better than lobster, it's that simple.

Speaking of taste, when I've asked people what lobster actually tasted like, they tended to say something like "Lobster just tastes like lobster, you can't describe it, you just have to taste it. It has a taste all its own."

Bollocks. I can explain exactly what it tastes like. Imagine a flavor exactly in the middle between crab and shrimp, but weaker, with a texture like over-cooked chicken.

So, in the end, it was definately good. Just not $25 dollars for two tiny tails good.

For the same price I could have got two or three nice big porterhouse steaks...that's the way I'll go next time.


OzzyC said...

Too bad you don't think you got your money out of it. I'm one of the people who really likes lobster (as far as fish and seafood go). I hated fish as a kid and didn't really like it as a young adult. Eventually I tried and liked shrimp and crab, and wanted to taste lobster. I like the tougher texture... doesn't seem so fatty... and I think the taste is very distinctive.

If you ever try it again, get a fresh lobster and have someone cook it up for you.

delmer said...

I used to live in Massachusetts and we'd cook up lobster once in a while.

Live ones that we'd drop in a pot of boiling water.

My recollection was that they were a lot of work to eat. Crab legs too.