When it comes to serving lobster, fresh is always best. Sitting down to a meal of steamed new shell lobster, plucked from the depths of the ocean floor that dawn is the ultimate sea-to-table dining experience. Many summers during my youth I had the satisfaction of tucking into a lobster dinner knowing I had helped harvest the seafood piled on my plate. Alongside the lobster, there were often bowls of russet potatoes and green string beans gathered from our family garden.
Now that I live in London, I mostly rely on frozen lobster to get my Maine seafood fix. When my family come for visits, they board the transatlantic flight with vacuum-sealed bags of freshly cooked and picked lobster meat stuffed in their luggage. Ice packs keep the seafood cool until touchdown. The challenge, once the lobster has landed on British soil, is to resist the urge to eat it all on the spot. My husband, Anthony, and I usually enjoy a bit of the meat fresh then freeze the rest so we can ration it over the coming months.
My family’s method for freezing lobster meat is as follows:
- If you are starting with fresh lobster, cook the lobster completely – about 20 minutes of steaming – then pick and cool the meat
- Put the picked, cooled lobster meat in a freezer zip lock bag and add in some milk (about 1/4th a cup of milk for the meat of two average-sized lobsters)
- When you are ready to use the meat, unthaw it over 24 hours in the refrigerator
- Don’t discard the milky liquid which pools in the freezer bags when the meat unthaws – incorporate it into your cooking for an injection of extra flavor
Unfortunately freezing lobster does alter its flavor and texture a bit. I find that ‘fresh frozen’ lobster (as my husband likes to call it) is less flavorful and the texture is a wee bit rubbery, so I use it to make a lobster newburg, lobster spaghetti or a lobster bisque. All turn out beautifully working from previously frozen lobster. When the meat is incorporated into a sauce or sautéed in butter, moisture and texture are, to an extent, restored.
Many of my London friends have first been introduced to Maine lobster via my ‘fresh frozen’ lobster creations. While we laugh about the ‘fresh frozen’ terminology and I always caveat that the dinner pales in comparison to seafood fresh off the Maine docks, we all agree it measures up to any lobster you can get in London