Homarus americanus, the lobsters that are native to the American North Atlantic coast, look quite different from the spiny, clawless creatures known as isé ebi that crawl along the Japanese coastline. Japanese isé ebi are incredibly expensive and contain very little, though usually sweet, meat. Their shells turn bright red as our lobsters’ do when cooked, and since red is the color of felicity in Japan, isé ebi are served at weddings and on other auspicious occasions.
Most Japanese professional and home cooks living in the New England area are immediately captivated by our hefty and comparatively low-priced Homarus americanus. Whenever a friend or relative visits from Japan, a lobster dinner makes it a memorable affair. I serve the lobster with two sauces, one a tart soy and the other a creamy but spicy mayonnaise. If you have some wasabi mayonnaise left over from another day, by all means use it. The version given here, though, makes use of a whole lime—juice and rind—and yields just enough for two portions.
Everyone agrees that when shopping for lobsters, you should choose the liveliest creatures you can find and cook them soon. There’s some controversy, though, on the subject of whether lobsters should be killed just prior to plunging them into boiling water, or whether the plunge itself is sufficient. The Japanese believe that the sudden hot bath tightens the flesh of their native isé ebi, a crustacean more similar to crayfish than to our Homarus americanus. The Japanese insert a sharp metal skewer just where the head meets the body to “relax” the lobster before cooking it. If you’re squeamish, or if your lobsters are so active as to make holding them while skewering them a problem, I think the boiling water alone is just fine.
When both lobsters have been cooked and are cool enough to handle comfortably, extract the meat from the claws, legs, and body. I find it easiest to use a nutcracker or hammer to crack the claws and legs. I shred this meat by hand, checking to remove bits of cartilage and shell. I use kitchen shears to cut down both sides of the tail in order to remove the meat in a single piece. Slice this tail meat evenly into pieces about
Slice the lemon in half through its middle at the thickest part. With the help of a grapefruit knife, carefully remove the fruit from the rinds. Squeeze the fruit and save
Cut the lime in half through its middle at the thickest part and, with the help of a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit. If you’re making the mayonnaise fresh from this recipe, rather than using some left over from another use, squeeze the fruit and reserve the juice, discarding the pulp. Save the rinds and trim off just enough from the stem and flower ends of each to keep it from rocking. In a bowl, combine the egg yolk, salt,
Rinse the radish sprouts under cold water and shake them dry. Divide the sprouts into six bundles. Slice the pitted olives to make three rings from each. Slip the rooted ends of one bundle of radish sprouts through a single ring and trim off the roots. Repeat to make six ringed bundles in all. Use three bundles to garnish each plate, placing them to the left of the mounded lobster meat. Chill the plates for 5–10 minutes before serving.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.