Warm Lobster with Orange and Dill Salad

Lobster remains a treat for most people, and one that they rarely consider cooking at home, probably because of the need to handle the live crustacean. This is not difficult and the cooking could not be easier, since it simply means poaching in a lot of heavily salted water.

The water should be as salty as the sea, a salinity achieved by adding about 140 g / 5 oz salt to every 5 litres / 1 gallon of water. A lobster weighing 550 g / lb will take 13 minutes, a 675 g / lb lobster 15 minutes and one up to 1.125 kg / lb, 20 minutes. If you are lucky enough to be working over that weight, allow an extra 5 minutes per 450 g / 1 lb. A very large lobster is, however, a very old lobster, and is neither as sweet nor as tender as the smaller ones.

For many people, the cooking of a live lobster is a moral and ethical dilemma, as the post bag demonstrates whenever such a procedure is suggested. If you are concerned about putting a living creature into boiling water, first chill it in a freezer or an ice slurry for 30 minutes before putting it in the pot. According to the RSPCA, the exposure to extreme cold causes it to become unconscious.

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Ingredients

  • 675 g/ lb lobster
  • 140 g/ 5 oz salt

For the Orange and Dill Salad

  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 oranges
  • 300 ml/ ½ pt thick plain
  • yoghurt
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill

Method

Cook the lobster: put 5 litres/ 1 gallon of water and the salt in a large pot and bring to a rapid boil. Add the lobster, allow the water to return to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Cutting a lobster in half demands a firm hand. If you are right-handed, put the lobster on its belly and with the head pointing to the right. Using a heavy, pointed and sharp-bladed knife, insert the point where the carapace joins the tail section, then drive down and cut through the head, slamming down with the flat of your hand on the knife to cut cleanly through the shell. Turn the lobster, reinsert the knife in the same central line and cut through to the tail. Crack the claws and remove the flesh. Pull out the tail section in one piece and cut across into rounds. Everything is edible apart from the gravel sac and intestinal tract behind the mouth. The green tomalley in the carapace is delicious.

Make the salad: cut off the base of the lettuces and separate the leaves. Make a basic dressing with the olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper, then toss the leaves in this to coat and arrange on 2 plates. Cut off the peel of the oranges and all pith, then cut the flesh into segments and discard all the pips. Toss the orange segments in the yoghurt with the dill and a little pepper. Spoon these over the leaves.

Share the lobster meat between the 2 plates, arranging it on top of the salad. Garnish with a sprig of dill.