Those who love lobster love it a lot
Story by Alain Bossé
Photography Steve Smith/Visionfire
It’s incredible to think that this amazing magazine that we all know and love is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It has been an absolute delight and pleasure to spend just a little over half of that time rounding out stories of human resilience, Atlantic Canadian pride and innovation, trips into our ancestry, and stories that delve into people’s pride and passions, together with a smattering of recipes and food love.
Celebration in our home, and in the homes of many Atlantic Canadians, means lobster! Food trends have come and gone in the last 20 years but lobster has never waned in its popularity. Locals devour it and “come from aways” seek it out in all of its forms.
Whether you spread your picnic table with newspaper and dig in while abandoning all rules of etiquette, or prefer to have it served to you at a lobster supper in the company of strangers—who, for a brief span in time, become friends before going their separate ways. Perhaps you prefer it stuffed into a grilled bun; no matter what, our passion is undeniable.
There is always a lobster fishery taking place somewhere at any given time of the year in Atlantic Canada. With 38 different regions being fished at different times, you can find lobster fresh from the water in the spring on the North Shore and in the winter months on the South Shore.
Our fishing industry follows a set of guidelines and regulations enforced by the fisheries act and the Lobster Council of Canada works on behalf of all levels of government in Canada and internationally to ensure sustainability. All of this comes together to provide one of the most successful lobster fisheries in the world. Because the fishing season moves across the region it ensures that our
lobsters are always coming out of cold North Atlantic water. When the water temperatures rise; lobsters begin to moult, resulting in softer shells and lighter meat content.
While many lobster distributors will float lobster so that you can find whole in-the-shell lobster anytime during the year in almost any area, the industry has also made great strides in providing frozen whole or cooked product available to the consumer; lobster is frozen in various forms and is sold in a variety of packaging and size options. Lobsters are very often frozen within 48 hours of coming out of the water, which ensures a quality product.
A trip to your local fishmonger or seafood counter may seem a bit daunting at first but with a little knowledge you’ll quickly adapt to reading and understanding labels.
If the lobster is not frozen whole, it will come packaged in a variety of forms. For example CK will be frozen claws and knuckles, CKL will be frozen claws knuckles and legs. Tails are also available in several options, frozen raw in-shell or frozen whole cooked out of the shell. Broken tail meat will also be prepackaged for sale.
Whole frozen lobster can go from the freezer directly to the pot, it takes very little time for the lobster warm through and be ready to serve, frozen lobster meat can be thawed in the refrigerator and used as is, or you can add it to pastas, chowders, casseroles and other dishes.
Buying frozen lobster meat is often more economical as the weight you’re paying for is all meat and no shell or other wastage.
Whole frozen lobster will often come as is while frozen lobster meat will be packaged in lightly salted brine. You simply drain off the brine and not overpower the delicate rich flavour of the meat.
It’s very important to realize that frozen lobster is not a subpar product. I’m a huge fan of buying frozen CK lobster meat, thawing it and using it in lobster rolls. You absolutely cannot taste the difference. It’s a fabulous way to stock the freezer with lobster meat so that it’s always on hand for a celebration like a birthday party–or just because you want some!