Taste of the Caribbean: Local Lobster—No Claws, No Problem!
It would be too easy to be drawn into the debate about what’s the tastiest lobster. Naturally, most anyone from the northern half of the United States would quickly reply (in all caps): MAINE LOBSTER! They would probably add that it’s the only “true” lobster, whatever that means. And just as naturally, most anyone from the Caribbean would loudly retort: CARIBBEAN LOBSTER IS ‘DE BEST!
Rather than stoke the fires of that debate (I think you can guess my allegiance), I’ll just say there are two things that factor into the tastiness of a dish that go beyond the usual debate.
The first is freshness and the second is a more nebulous “spice” that at times could be called authenticity, or nostalgia, or even an experiential quality. Basically, everything tastes better when it’s both fresh and an experience.
No, Caribbean lobster (also known as spiny lobster) is not a close relative of Maine lobster. No, Caribbean lobster doesn’t have oversize claws full of tasty flesh. No, Caribbean lobster isn’t what many Americans grew up with from visits to the likes of Red Lobster.
What Caribbean lobster is, however, is one of the most so-fresh-it-was-alive-when-I-got-there, thoroughly authentic, experience making dinners you can have in the West Indies. And that’s what makes it the most delicious lobster on the planet… At least at the moment you’re eating it.
Of course, if you’re not in the Caribbean, you can still spice your meal with nostalgic memories of time spent in the sunny islands by picking up some spiny Caribbean lobster of your own and fixing up some at home. (Usually, it would be from fisheries off Florida.) This Caribbean lobster with rum-jerk butter recipe comes from the Mount Gay Rum (oldest rum brand in the world) folks on Barbados.
Parboil the lobster until bright red, then put into a 300 F oven with a little melted butter until the sauce below is done. Sauté onion, jerk seasoning and sweet pepper in remaining melted butter and cook until onion turns translucent. Removing from heat pour in the rum and add butter stirring until it has melted evenly and turns creamy. Add lime juice and herbs, stirring together.
Take each lobster tail and cut in half keeping shell in place. Pull all lobster meat from the rest of the lobster. Keep the body shell for plating your dishes.
Place a bed of greens on each plate. Next place a hollowed lobster shell on each plate on top of the greens. Add lobster meat in a mound next to shell opening and place lobster tails on plate. Pour sauce over lobster and serve the rest in dipping bowls. Garnish with chopped tomato concasse.
It may not be as fresh as the lobster pictured above that moments later went into my belly during a recent visit to St. Martin‘s Restaurant Row in Grand Case, but if you close your eyes while savoring that sweet meat, you might be able to hear the sounds of Caribbean waves lapping against the beach.