In Bermuda, September is the beginning of the much-anticipated spiny lobster season. Each year, Bermudians wait for it to roll around and then start preparing their delicious sea-to-table dishes. If you find yourself there between September and March, your chances of indulging in spiny lobster cuisine are great. In the meantime, we have acquired a fabulous spiny lobster recipe from chef Keith Deshields of Bermuda’s Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa so you can experience the taste of the season from the comfort of your home.
Fun fact: Spiny lobsters have harder shells and no claws, so most of the meat is found in the tail. The rest of the tasty meat can be found in the legs and antenna.
1 medium-size fresh Bermuda spiny lobster
1 small onion
2 pieces celery sticks cut in thirds
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
2 bay leaves
Cutting boards with catch sides to prevent getting your work area messy when working with the lobster
Large pot of salted water (if you can get ocean water, even better), enough water to cover the lobster
A bowl or large pot with ice water to shock (cool down) the cooked lobster so the cooking process stops and the lobster does not overcook
Put all ingredients except the lobster in the salt water. Bring to a heavy boil, put the lobster in the boiling water, and cook for about 7 minutes. Depending on the size of the lobster, the time will differ. You need about 5 minutes for a 2.5-pound lobster, while a mid-sized spiny lobster is about 3 pounds.
Once the lobster has cooked for the appropriate time, remove from heat and shock the lobster in the ice water.
Once the lobster has completely cooled, use a large, heavy chef knife to cut the lobster down the middle lengthwise. Be careful not to hurt your hands on the spines—use an old hand towel to hold the lobster when working with it.
Once you have cut the lobster, remove all the unwanted inner parts, and rinse the tail and inside of the head. Set aside for the next step.
Curried Shrimp and Herb Stuffing
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
¼-inch piece root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped finely (optional)
¾ teaspoon good-quality curry powder
1 teaspoon fennel, coarsely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tomato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup cooked baby shrimp (250–350), dried to remove excess water
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pan, then add the chopped onion and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high.
Add the ginger, garlic, and green chili (if using). Stir for 30 seconds, then reduce heat to very low.
Cook for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time and making sure nothing browns or burns.
Add curry powder, still very gently, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Don’t burn the spices—sprinkle with a few drops of water if needed.
Remove from heat and cool. If you have a hand blender, use it to purée the curry, adding the lemon juice, zest, and fennel. If not, add a little cold water in a blender, add the contents of the pan, and blend until very smooth, adding the lemon juice, zest, and fennel.
Add the tomato purée and stir.
Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 20–30 minutes. It should have the consistency of a purée when finished.
In a sauté pan, melt and heat the butter. When the butter is hot, add the baby shrimp and toss, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Add the baby shrimp to the curry. Set aside.
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup coarse bread crumbs (you can make your own by slowly drying dinner rolls, putting them in a ziplock bag, and hitting them lightly with a rolling pin)
1 clove garlic, minced very fine
¼ small onion, chopped very fine
Pinch of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
Salt and pepper
In a medium-sized skillet, melt butter on medium heat and add all ingredients except the bread. Fry until the garlic and onion start to brown. Remove from heat and toss the breadcrumbs in the herb butter.
Heat oven to 375°F. Put the two lobster halves in a fairly deep baking pan. Spoon the curry into the head of the lobster halves, dividing evenly.
Using your hand, crumble and divide the breadcrumbs over the shrimp curry. Your hand will be greasy after this. Give it a good wash before proceeding.
Place a small cup of water in bottom of oven. This will generate moisture to help to prevent lobster from drying and getting tough.
Melt a little butter in a small saucepan. Season the lobster tails with salt and white pepper (if you are using salted butter, then only use pepper).
Spoon the butter over the lobster tail. Put the lobster tail in the oven and bake 7–10 minutes. The size of the lobster will determine how long you need to bake.