Black lobster (homarus gammarus) is the most delicious of all crustaceans, and the black lobsters living in the cold northern waters, which reduce the creatures’ growth to an incredibly slow pace, are as delicious as they come.
They are caught in relatively shallow waters, especially in summer, when they migrate to the North Sea shores.
Small lobsters are the most expensive, but we know from experience that even large lobsters are just as good to eat, as well as much cheaper. I remember I once bought one really scary monster of a lobster in a Danish fishing town. It measured nearly one meter from its tail to the tip of the two tremendous claws, each the size of a grown man’s hand.
Related: Scandinavian shellfish & molluscs
It was ridiculously cheap because everybody believed that this creature, which must have been 50 years old, would be tough to eat. Even if we had a huge fish kettle at our disposal we still had to cook the lobster in two goes. We ate it simply with a dill mayonnaise, crusty bread and lemon, and I have never forgotten it in the past 50 years. We were ten privileged guests and there was more than enough to go round.
Appearance and taste
Lobsters are usually a beautiful shiny black, but they can also be greenish, or almost every nuance of dark blue. Once cooked the lobster will turn scarlet red, and while it should smell of fresh seawater when alive, it should smell spicily shellfishy once boiled.
Related: Scandinavian Ray
The flesh of a freshly cooked lobster is sweet and dense, almost elastic, and eating it is like taking a deep breath on a summer’s day, evoking the smells of a fishing port and a taste of ozone and sex, spiced with a weak whiff of iodine and just-awakened baby.
Buying and storing
Lobsters must be very much alive when you buy them. They are sold with a thick rubber band around their fierce claws, and there is a reason for this: the pincers can easily cut your fingers off. Frozen or ready-cooked lobsters are not remotely of the same quality as the ones you cook yourself, and the fact that they’re cheap is not a good enough reason to buy them.
Related: Scandinavian Monkfish
For a starter, half a lobster per person is fine; for a more substantial dish allow one lobster weighing around 500g per person. Once boiled in their court-bouillon, lobsters will, in principle, keep in the fridge for several days, but the true romance lies in eating them when they have just cooled.
You can create all kinds of flashy dishes with lobsters, but unless you are lucky enough to have lobster all the time, the most beautiful way is just to boil it plain, as for crayfish, and serve it with flavored mayonnaise.
You need to allow 90 seconds in the court-bouillon for every 100g of lobster. Take it out of the pan, let the stock cool to room temperature, then put the lobster back for a flavor-enhancing bath.
Scandinavian Lobster for New Year’s Eve, written by Tor Kjolberg