First catch your lobster ...
Sometimes when I cook lobster and leave it in the fridge parts of the inside of the shell turn black and so do bits of the meat. How do I prevent this? What am I doing wrong when I cook or store the lobster - the lobster meat sure looks cooked.
- Al Lyon
I have to say I've not personally come across the blackened issue myself so I'm not really sure how to prevent it happening. Perhaps it's best if I say how I cook crayfish (also known as spiny or rock lobster) and hopefully it'll prevent any such dramas moving forward.
As a family, my fabulous father Bruce Gordon was keen that we grow and forage for some of our own food. Catching crayfish around Ngawi on Cape Palliser was one such regular family adventure. Dad always cooked his crayfish by throwing them live into a large pot of boiling sea water as he said they needed to be cooked in water as salty as the water they live in. As we were often cooking 20 at a time his ability to know when they were properly cooked was extraordinary. These days it's considered more humane to stun the crayfish before cooking and we're told to place them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before cooking. While that might be possible at home, it's highly unlikely if you're on the rocks around Cape Palliser and also not always easy to do when the freezer is full. Instead, if you're good with a knife (or screwdriver) plunge the blade through the body between the eyes and wiggle twice - but be careful as the shell is tough.
To cook a crayfish weighing around 600-750g, bring a large pot of water to the boil that will easily hold the critter submerged. Add 1 ½ ablespoons fine salt per litre of water (2 tablespoons of flaky salt). Using tongs, place the crayfish in head first, poking it under the water and bring back to the boil. Put a lid on and boil for 7-8 minutes at which point the shell will be a gorgeous orange. Using tongs, take it from the water and plunge into a bowl of cold water for 2 minutes to stop it cooking. If a bowl of cold water isn't a possibility, take out of the pot a minute earlier.
If eating the next day, leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge, covered tightly. Alternately, you can grill your crayfish and barbecue it. Lay it upright but flat on a board, push a large sturdy knife though the head in the same spot and push your knife flat through the body to cut it in half lengthways - not for the squirmish. Brush the flesh with light olive oil or melted butter, lightly season and cook, flesh side down over glowing charcoal for a minute. Turn over, brush with more oil or butter and cook another 3-5 minutes until the flesh is just cooked and opaque.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you’re stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.