Guernsey: the Lobster Saga part 1
August 22, 2009 § Leave a comment
When we visited Guernsey the previous year (summer 2008) I had imagined eating spanking-fresh seafood daily, acquired after haggling with gnarled fisherman clad in salt-encrusted Guernsey sweaters down by the harbourside. Fish and shellfish were certainly available in abundance – there were lobster pot buoys off every rocky headland and lobsters featured on every restaurant menu – but where on earth did you buy the raw materials? We discovered the answer on the last day of our holiday – Seafresh Fishmongers on St Peter Port’s harbourside – “Guernsey’s only traditional fishmonger”. This year, I was determined to cook one, maybe two lobster dishes, a simple one using cooked lobster to start and, if this went well, one of the classic lobster dishes such as Thermidor or Américaine. I’d pre-ordered a good sized cooked lobster whilst we were still in Sark to be ready for collection in St Peter Port as soon as we disembarked en route to our holiday apartment at Vazon Bay.
Here is Seafresh fishmongers, authentically situated right by the water on the approach to local landark Castle Cornet. Refurbishment is under way hence the scaffolding:
Inside is a fantastic wet fish counter and a tank, replenished daily, for live crabs and lobsters. A magnet for small boys!
We collected our 3lb lobster, still warm from the enormous pot where the live shellfish are cooked on the premises each morning, and it shared a 20 minute taxi ride with us over to Vazon Bay on Guernsey’s west coast.
We collected the key to our apartment, unpacked our bags and then unpacked our handsome lobster, now christened Laura. She was definitely female – you can tell both from the presence of roe and from the anatomy of the swimmerets:
A lobster is a challenging creature to prepare, even when it is already cooked, as most of us don’t eat them very often.
With this in mind, I’d brought a photocopy of the illustrated instructions from my trusty copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Mine is the Penguin edition (though the original first appeared in the US in 1961). I’ve had this book for ages and it has become the reference work I turn to for any aspect of French cookery or technical skill. The text is clear, accurate but never dry. The illustrations, black and white line drawings by Sidonie Coryn (what a wonderful name!) are so much more than a technical diagrams – they are beautiful in a botanical illustration kind of way.
The book didn’t let me down – within 20 minutes or so, the lobster meat was extracted and cut into chunky pieces and the greenish blue liver was reserved for enriching the sauce. Sadly I had no use for the roe today.
I was now ready to prepare my recipe – spaghetti with lobster – a simple pasta sauce of my own devising, comprising lobster, garlic, chopped parsley and olive oil. It is a good way of making one lobster serve several people.
Here is the finished dish:
Recipe for Spaghetti with Lobster
For 4 generous main course portions
Meat from a 3lb cooked lobster cut into bite size chunks
If liked, 2 teaspoons lobster liver to add to sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Enough dried spaghetti for 4 people – best quality you can find to do the lobster justice
Warm 4 bowls. Put the spaghetti into ample boiling salted water. In the time it takes to cook (8 minutes or so) you will have time to prepare the sauce. Fry the garlic in a sauté pan big enough to hold the cooked spaghetti with its sauce. When the garlic turns golden and aromatic, add the dried chili flakes and the lobster liver (if using this) and let it all sizzle in the pan for a few seconds, then add the lobster pieces, parsley and seasoning to taste. Turn off the heat and wait till the spaghetti is ready, maybe another minute or so. Drain the cooked pasta, add to the sauté pan, toss, adding more extra virgin olive oil if necessary and a squeeze of lemon juice, then serve in the warmed bowls. Please, no parmesan which is not right with fish.
Finally, here are contact details for Seafresh:
Tel 01481 722707