Lightly Smoked Lobster with Sea Purslane and Suffolk Samphire
I have been proven to be completely wrong, if I had not joined Twitter I would have never known about Polly Robinson from Food Safari UK.
I find the Suffolk coast line most intriguing,which explains our many visits.The Aldeburgh Food festival has become a highlight on our yearly foodie calendar. It’s a family affair and together with Ross’s parents, Annerly and Duke the dog , we make an annual pilgrimage to Aldeburgh to savour the best food that Suffolk has to offer.
Twitter worked it’s magic and I saw a message posted by Polly about the Sea Food Safari that was due to take place. Keen and interested we joined in on the fun.
It was a brilliant day starting with Polly’s home made flapjacks and coffee at the quay before boarding the small fishing vessel to sail up the river Ore. I got all excited as we spotted lambs grazing on the banks and so salt marsh lamb came to mind.
The reason for sailing up the Ore was to empty the lobster pots. We pulled the pots filled with numerous treasures, including various sizes of lobsters, common shore crabs, eels, whelks, sea urchins and jelly fish eggs. Peter, the captain for the day, reminded us that you are not allowed to fish for lobster unless you have a valid permit and you must return the lobsters to the sea that are below the legal 10cm size, that is measuring from the eye’s to where the tail is attached to the body. Peter was also keen to tell us some other names that fishermen call sea urchin’s but I think I shall keep that one for another time.
After the boat trip we took a behind the scenes tour of Pinney’s smoke house at Butley creek. This was followed by a delicious sea food lunch at Butley Orford Oysterage Restaurant.
While we visited the oysterage at Butley Creek ,Polly pointed out the samphire and sea purslane growing on the banks of the river, it was a fantastic find, so I helped myself to a useful supply to take home along with the lobster from earlier that day.
As we were driving home ,I toyed with a number of ideas on which recipe to use with the lobster and the other sea vegetables that we found that day. All of a sudden it came to me, the inspiration of the day was the smoke house.
We kept Larry the lobster neatly wrapped in damp news paper in the fridge until we were ready the following day to light the barbecue and make this lovely dish. I blanched the lobster in a pot of boiling hot water to kill the lobster instantly, then removed the claws and tail.
A few years ago when visiting New York I found these cedar wood sheets in one of the many classy delicatessens, they wrapped them around salmon to enclose all sorts of interesting flavours, marinades and herbs. After chatting with the person behind the counter he pointed me in the right direction to where I could purchase some of these cedar wood sheets. I brought some back home and tested them on the barbecue. The results were fantastic as the food inside steams while it is lightly smoked at the same time. The secret is that the barbecue must be fairly cool so that it cooks slowly before the soaked wood drys out and catches fire.
- 1lb lobster
- 2tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Sprigs of fresh herbs such as savoury, flowering thyme and rosemary
- 2 Cedar wood sheets soaked for one hour in cold water
- 4 spears of asparagus
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Make sure that the lobster fits before you start.
Once the water is boiling rapidly place the lobster inside and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 4 minutes, remove the tail from the body, I wear thick rubber gloves to protect my hands and return the claws to the boiling water for a further 3 minutes.
Cool both the tail and claws in ice water.
Prepare the tail: Crush the shell with your hands, this will make serving easy and ensure that the smoke penetrates the tail. Brush the tail with some of the oil, wrap it in one of the soaked cedar sheets together with a generous amount of the fresh herbs, roll the wood up and secure with kitchen string.
Prepare the claws: Use a small light hammer or cleaver to remove the shell from the claw meat. Glaze the meat with some of the oil and use the asparagus and the remainder of the herbs when rolling the mixture up in the soaked cedar wood sheet Secure with kitchen string.
Cook the parcels on a mild heat. I like to cook them on the cooler parts of the barbecue so that the soaked wood does not dry out too quickly nor burn too fast. If you are using a Webber or a barbecue with a lid use the lid to encourage the smoking. The wood should burn a bit so that the lobster gets the smoky flavour. I smoke it for about 10 - 12 minutes over low heat.
New Potato and Sea Vegetable Salad
- 8 boiled new potatoes, skin on
- 150g samphire
- 2tbs sea purslane
- 2 rashers of smoked back bacon
- 2 tbs blanched and popped broad beans
- 1tsp grain mustard
- 1tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly cracked black pepper and course sea salt
Heat a medium non stick frying pan and saute the samphire in a splash of olive oil for two minutes, remove from the pan.
In the same pan cook the bacon until crispy, remove and deglaze the pan with the vinegar, oil and grain mustard to form the vinaigrette.
Cut the cooked potatoes in half and mix with the warm vinaigrette.
Chop the bacon into small pieces and mix with the potatoes, broad beans and sampire. Add half of the sea purslane and season to taste.
Serve smoked lobster with the potato and sea vegetable salad and garnish with the rest of the sea purslane.