Prince Edward Island is a secret Canadian gem that is full of character and charm. With breath taking beaches, and incredible views the scenery can take your breath away. Furthermore, the cuisine is out of this world. On the Island, we appreciate food and the art of enjoying it. Seafood is our speciality! The island is famous for it’s traditional Lobster Suppers, seeing tourists flock by the thousands each summer just to partake. A visit to the Island is a real treat in so many ways.
As you can gather from the opening paragraph, I am an Island gal. Raised in Charlottetown PEI, I currently call St. Albert, Alberta home.
Growing up on the Island we always had the pleasure of a Lobster feast on Christmas Eve. Everyone enjoyed the messy job of cracking our own Lobsters, shucking our own Oysters, and dipping our warm baguette bread in the delicious broth from our freshly steamed Mussels. It was an Island Christmas Eve tradition.
Moving to the west I worried that tradition may have to be set aside, however this was not the case. Instead, the tradition evolved. It became an “East meets West” party with friends and family. I have fresh Lobsters and Oysters shipped directly from the Island, The Water Prince Corner shop to be exact. My Alberta friends bring a haul of Alberta beef to the gathering. They flock to their favourite local beef suppliers, a favourite being Real Deal Meats. Together we prepare a feast of traditional favourites and enjoy the theatrics of it all. This East meets West party is my favourite event of the year and I am thrilled my kids are able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
For the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on the East sides main attraction. The Lobster. How does one prepare a Lobster? It is much easier than you may think. Lobster is not the only part of a Lobster supper however. To do this the Island way, you also require steamed mussels, warm potato salad, clam chowder, fresh homemade biscuits, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. A hearty, messy, completely enjoyable, shellfish extravaganza. This menu is always showcasing the local dairy products, and freshly gathered produce found locally on the Island. It is a lot of work, and well worth it, however; getting back to the purpose of this post, lets focus on the Lobster prep. The instructions are here below:
Boil a Lobster:
Bring a Large Pot of salted water to a boil.
Take your Live Lobster (1.5lb) and drop it into the water. Be sure the Lobster is submerged completely.
Cover and bring the water back to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to a medium high to keep the boil rolling and cook for 16 minutes.
When done, remove the lobster and drop into an ice bath to stop the cooking or serve right away. You can serve them warm or cold.
Now how do you crack this Lobster open?
Well you begin by grabbing an apron. This is a messy job and you will want to be covered.
Gather a large kitchen knife, a meat tenderizer or mallet, Lobster crackers, and a lobster pick.
On a heavy cutting board, place your lobster straight and hold the body with your left hand.
Using your right hand, take your kitchen knife and cut down on the tail lengthwise. The tail should still be attached to the body, just now split in half.
Using the Knife again, Hold the large front claw in your left hand and with your right, “chop” the claw on the edge in the centre of the largest piece, the knife should stick. Then twist. The claw shell will crack in two.
Take the small claw piece in your hand and just bend back until it releases.
Using the Mallet, hit the knuckles of the Lobster to crack them open.
Place your Lobster on a plate with the shells arranged to look as though they are intact, split the tail and put a small ramekin of melted garlic butter there.Serve with a lemon wedge as well.
Give each person a Lobster cracker, and a Lobster pick to work out all of the meat from those hard to reach areas. Dining trick? Bibs. Give your guests plastic bibs. To really enjoy this experience is to relax and roll up your sleeves. Encourage your guests to “go for it” and dig in.
Shell compost and clean-up
As for what to do with your Lobster shells once your done, save them. Rinse them under cold water to remove any remaining meat and set them out to dry. I normally compost the bodies and focus on the claws and tails for drying. Let them dry over night. In the morning, put them in a ziplock bag, and with your mallet, smash them to smaller pieces. Then toss them into the freezer and wait until spring. Place a handful of these in the hole you dig to plant your tomato plants. Place the tomato plant directly on top. They LOVE lobster shells!