If you feel like I've already celebrated National Lobster Day once this year, you're right. But the U.S. Senate just recently passed a unanimous resolution to move the celebration from June 15th to today, September 25th. This coincides with lobster's natural molting season, when the crustaceans shed their old shells and grow a new, larger one, thus coining the term Maine New Shell lobster. But since the meat can't fill out their new home, they pull in seawater. And according to seafood sustainability expert Barton Seaver, this creates several culinary benefits.
"First, when you cook that lobster you're steaming it in delicious lobster-scented seawater," Seaver says. "Oh, hell yeah. And the new shell is softer, more porous. So you actually end up getting this wonderful extraction as the flavor of the shell pushes into the meat. The meat itself, while retaining that snappy bite and texture that we love in lobster, it's got a softness, a sweetness, and a delicate personality as the lobster is more focused on regenerating its shell. Thus, that meat is sweet and tender."
But lobster shouldn't be celebrated just because it's a delicious critter fished out of the sea. It's also the lifeblood of a booming economy. According to Seaver, for every $1 caught on a lobster boat in Maine, $3 goes back into the community—if you're lobstering, you've got to buy ice, nets, transportation, traps, gas, the works. What's more, the way in which lobsters are fished should be celebrated, too. Where there are concerns with other fisheries (cod being an example) regarding sustainability, lobstering is so meticulously managed that lobster hauls have boomed—from 30 million pounds in 1991 to 124 million pounds in 2014. The self-imposed industry regulations are working in a big way.
"All females are protected," Seaver says. "So they go right back in the water regardless of size. They get a notch in their tail cut out so that, even if it's caught later on, you can tell immediately that it's part of a breeding population. It's so well-managed because the industry itself has suggested these management procedures. And it's managed on very basic biological principles: Leave the breeding population in the water. Not only are there minimal size requirements, there's maximum. A lobster breeds exponentially more the bigger they get."
In honor of National Lobster Day, we'd first like to offer our sincerest thanks to the hardworking lobstermen and women of the Northeast. Without you, we wouldn't get to enjoy this perfectly portioned protein. Next, we wanted to create something special for the occasion. So our Executive Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman whipped up these delicious 4-ingredient Connecticut Lobster Rolls. And according to Seaver, making a batch of these is the best way you can celebrate today.
"I think the very best way to sustain lobster populations is to eat them. Eat them mindfully and enjoy, but understand that when you're buying a lobster, when you're purchasing a New Shell, you are supporting and investing in a system that has proven over decades to be an exemplar of sustainable management. And how often do you hear that story?"
You heard the man. Crack open some lobster, make a batch of these divine lobster rolls, and extend your gratitude towards the Northeast. Happy National Lobster Day everyone! Cheers.
Connecticut Lobster RollsUnlike the classic New England lobster roll (made up of cold lobster salad in a bun), the CT version is comprised of a top-split hot-dog bun stuffed with warm lobster tossed with a little melted butter.
2 tablespoons butter1 pound coarsely chopped cooked Maine lobster meat1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives4 top-split hot-dog buns, toasted
1. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add lobster; toss to coat. Cook 1 minute or just until heated. Stir in chives. Divide lobster mixture evenly among buns. Serve immediately.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 1 roll)CALORIES 276; FAT 8g (sat 4g, mono 1.9g, poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 27g; CARB 22g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 96mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 693mg; CALC 156mg
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