How to Make Lobster on Father’s Day

For as long as I can remember, we’ve always intended to make breakfast in bed at more family holidays than I can count.  Someone will have the courage to get up first, and the rustling in the kitchen will eventually remind the rest of us to come down and help out. Thing is, most of our family are early risers, so by the time we’re ready to serve, they’re already on their way down the stairs! But this actually works out in the end, since we neither have those standing trays that prop up nicely on the bed, pinning the groggy family member to their propped-up place, nor do we care to clean up spilled coffee or runny egg off of their sleeping covers. The best part about the breakfast in, uh, the kitchen, is that the celebrated family member will at least pretend to be asleep just long enough for us to walk upstairs and announce a ready breakfast. (Though more than once we’ve had to call out for them to wait before coming down – still have to work on the tardy timing!)

Eventually, we’ve outgrown the breakfast tradition. I’m lucky that each member of my family loves to cook, so food has always been included in our celebrations. Only now, we have a little more skill and better appreciation of a timely meal to prepare a grown-up dish. Like a fresh lobster dinner.

There’s only two ways we make lobster at our house, ginger-fried or plain-steamed, and both are coined “Chinese style” by my parents. Freshness and simplicity are really important in home-style Asian cooking, and that’s why at Asian “wet” markets, you can see the swift, red maneuvers of the butcher right after you select your cut of meat, or pick up the cold metal tongs and examine the fish lying on a bed of ice. In my undergrad thesis, I interviewed a mixed-age group of Chinese-Canadians about Asian food preferences, and turns out that fishiness is an indicator of freshness – so the fishier, the better the quality. So when you’re making lobster, get it live – there’s no better way of saying Happy Father’s Day than with the freshest ingredients!

Here in the photo, we’ve made plain-steamed lobster. And honestly, there’s not a lot more going in the wok than a lobster and boiling water! The prep is the tricky part because if you’ve committed to the fresh factor and bought live lobster, you might want to give the bag a good wack before you handle its contents. The rubber-gloved Amy Adams squealing above a boiling pot of water was cute for the movie, but probably not so great in your own kitchen.

Next, get thee to a sink. Do all the dirty work there. The easiest way to clean and prepare a lobster is by thinking what you’d like to see on the plate. Some people prefer a whole lobster; some like the head removed; some want to just want the wee tail. So, dear and fearless cook, you must split the lobster accordingly how your guests like it. Just drop what you don’t want over into the sink and wash your hands of the deed – that’s when the faucet comes in handy.

I should mention that by this time, your water should be boiling. If you’re steaming with us, do this in a wok and place the lobster on a plate on top of the bubbling water wok. Or even better – use a steamer with the basket and all. Main thing with steaming is to put the whole dish over-top of the water and let the heat cook it. Again, we are going with fresh and simple lobster taste, so you don’t need to season the lobster – just make sure it’s clean.

How long should the lobster sit in the sauna for? Depends on the size of your lobster, but on average, ten minutes or less is sufficient for one pound of lobster. Fish tends to get rubbery or flaky if it’s overcooked. Try not to disturb the steam when it’s in there too – a steady temperature will allow the fish to cook evenly. And when the time is up, ask the rest of the family to set the table (extra nice settings for Father’s Day, of course), and use the same plate you used to steam the lobster to serve on the table. Really, steaming is an easy and fast way to cook healthy food. If you have some nut crackers in the house, they’ll come in handy for cracking through the tough shells – and if the lobster dinner works well for you, you might even find yourself looking for lobster picks and bib. My mom has this hideous plastic lobster bib she kept from her trip to Maine .. but that’s another story in itself!

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