Let’s cook lobster or “kreef” as we know it in this part of the world!
The lobster (or kreef in Afrikaans) season will be open from 16 November 2016 for the South African public and we can’t wait for that first taste of fresh “kreef”.
Here’s a few tips on handling and preparing lobster:
Where and How to Buy Lobster
- Crayfish are available fresh from a licensed supplier such as a fishmonger, the fish delicatessen at the supermarket, or from certain fish wholesalers. Supplies are not always constant, so when planning for that special dinner party, make sure you order in advance. To test for freshness, stretch out the crayfish “tail” – it should spring back into a curled position immediately. Most dealers sell the crayfish live in season and this ensures the sweetest flavour and the firmest flesh.
- Whole cooked crayfish are also available from these sources and can be the answer if you are squeamish about dealing with a live animal. The horny shell of a raw crayfish is a brownish colour but when cooked, turns a vibrant orange-red. Crayfish “tail” or whole crayfish are readily obtainable frozen and although they lack the subtler flavour and firmer texture of their fresh counterparts, are nevertheless a useful standby.
Handling Live Crayfish Tips
- A crayfish that has been “gently killed” before cooking is said to have a sweet, tender flavour. One method is to fill a large bucket with fresh water and immerse the crayfish completely until it is dead. This takes about half an hour. Another method is to place the crayfish alive in boiling water, experts say it is kinder to stun the crayfish on the back of the head first. Overseas it is customary to kill this type of shellfish by plunging a knife into the head and splitting it.
Handling Frozen Crayfish Tips
- Defrost crayfish completely before cooking. This applies to whole frozen crayfish and to crayfish “tails”. Depending on the size, defrosting takes from 2–5 hours. Proceed as for fresh crayfish.
Freezing Crayfish Tips
- In general crayfish should be frozen as soon as possible after being taken from the sea. It is also best to freeze it raw since cooked crayfish tends to lose some of its texture and taste.
- Kill the crayfish by immersing in fresh water for half an hour or, if you prefer, place in boiling water for 2–3 minutes.
- Scrub the crayfish shell with a stiff brush to remove any extraneous sand, weed, barnacles etc. Allow to cool if the crayfish has been placed in boiling water.
- Put each crayfish immediately into a strong plastic freezing bag. Shape the bag around the crayfish and suck out the air so that the shells do not get freezer burn.
- Seal the bag with a wire tie and freeze immediately. Eat within six months.
- It may be more convenient to freeze just the “tails” as the heads are bulky and the leg meat dries out and shrinks when frozen.
- A good idea is to parcook the crayfish briefly so that the “tails” can be separated by twisting it from the body. Rinse off any extraneous matter under the tap, pat dry with kitchen towel and freeze as described in 3 and 4 above.
- The head and legs can then be cooked and eaten immediately, and make a delicious dish when the meat is dipped in mayonnaise or a flavoured butter.
- This flesh can also be used as a glamorous addition to scrambled eggs.
- Of course the heads and legs also form an excellent basis for fish soups such as Bouillabaisse du Cap and Fruits de mer du Cap.
Preparing Raw Crayfish Tips
- This method can also be used for serving cooked crayfish in the shell.
- Place the dead crayfish right side up, tail outstretched, on a wooden board.
- Using an extremely sharp knife with a large blade, cut through the shell of the crayfish head, moving downward through the middle of the tail.
- If one person is going to eat both halves, leave the last segment of the tail shell joined so that the crayfish halves are hinged together.
- Degut the crayfish by removing the “stomach” and the alimentary canal which looks like a piece of cord running the length of the body. If the alimentary canal is empty, this is a tidy business. Most shop-bought crayfish have been starved for about 48 hours before you buy them, in which case the canal will be empty.
- Leave the liver and, in the case of the female, the pink coral in place. Now, with a spoon scrape out any messy bits.
- Rinse crayfish quickly under running water and dry well with a clean cloth.
Alternative Crayfish Cutting Method
- If you do not own a really sharp knife, this method works well. It is easy and ideal for smaller crayfish.
- Place the raw crayfish on its back and stretch out the tail.
- With a knife or kitchen scissors, start cutting from the vent at the end of the tail through the soft undershell right up the tail along the central line of the alimentary canal.
- Do not cut right through to the outer shell, particularly if you wish to serve the crayfish in the shell.
- Cut through the harder body shell up the centre between the legs.
- Prise open the head with your hands. You now have the tail in one piece and the head stretched open.
- Cut away the soft body shell of the tail and lift it right off.
- Degut crayfish, rinse and pat dry with absorbent paper.
Info source: ejozi.co.za
Crayfish recipes worth trying out:
Crayfish can be cooked in salt water, fresh sea water, steamed or grilled on the braai. Any of these methods will make your mouth water!
Grilled lobster with garlic-parsley butter
- In this perfect summer recipe, lobster is flash-grilled, then poached in its own shell in a pool of melted garlic-parsley butter.
- Serves: 1-2 persons
- Time: 20 minutes
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 live lobster (about 1 to 1 1⁄2 lb.)
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- Combine butter, parsley, chile flakes, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Using a cleaver, split lobster in half lengthwise through its head and tail. Scoop out and discard the yellow-green tomalley and break off claws. Transfer lobster halves, shell side down, to a baking sheet; crack claws and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle halves and claws with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side. Place lobster halves, flesh side down, and claws on hottest part of grill; cook until slightly charred, 2-3 minutes. Flip lobster over and using a spoon, spread lobster with the garlic-parsley butter; continue grilling until lobster meat is tender, 3-5 minutes more.