Nigel Spence: A Lobster Roll Recipe Fit for a Caribbean Summer


By Nigel Spence
CJ Contributor
Bwoy, I hear seh Jamaica slowly a fret again! No sooner than dem get hit with the mosquito-borne disease Chik-V, which according to the song, “mek a bag a young people walk ole” is as quick as the powers that be identified another new strain passing through the Caribbean – ZIK-V – and it is alleged to have reached as far as the Dominican Republic.

They claim the symptoms are not as bad as Chik-V if contracted, but if this virus ever hits Jamaica a whole heap a people dolly house going mash up…why? It is said that this particular virus can be sexually transmitted so naturally you know, wi dead now! LOL.

ZIK-V is said to have first appeared in the Zika Forest in Uganda back in 1947 but an outbreak was not recorded until 2007 in Micronesia. Now cases are being reported in Brazil as well as in the Dominican Republic and of course, is transmitted by the famous Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

How one little mosquito can carry so many different viruses is puzzling to me: Dengue Fever, Malaria, CHIK-V and now ZIK-V??? How does it decide who gets what?

Well, that’s why I leave the figuring to the doctors and scientists. Not only do they have to track its whereabouts, but also find treatment for the cause to ward off an epidemic. Some suggestions are to eat foods that boost your body’s immune system so recovery from these illnesses is much faster. Among the foods recommended were: oysters, garlic, broccoli, sweet potato, watermelon, cabbage and green or black tea.

Thankfully, these are not hard-to-find foods and some already form part of the usual mealtime fare in Jamaica. In the case of ZIK-V though, I am not so sure oysters would be first and foremost on my list.

While it contains the mineral Zinc, a great disease-fighting component, it also gives rise (no pun intended) to a likkle Vitamin “S” – this might be the wrong boost considering one of the ways of contracting this virus! LOL

The good news is that many other seafoods contain the mineral Zinc and as Summer rolls around, these will be easily available in your local supermarket or can be bought fresh from your local fisherman.

My personal favorite this Summer is the mighty, mighty Lobster. Such a versatile food – most often grilled or boiled and succulently flavored. However, today, I will be sharing with you a very simple dish I have created which will not only tantalize your Lobster senses but will give your system a huge boost…of delight that is (smile).

Here in my kitchen, I cannot promise to cure any CHIK-V or ZIK-V but you definitely will develop a case of “Lick-P” (Lick Plate.

Ripe’s Summer Lobster Roll
I am a purist when it comes to lobster rolls, which means using feisty, live and flapping Atlantic lobsters. Maine stakes claim to the best of ’em but I have had excellent fresh Atlantic lobsters up and down the Northeast coastline of the United States.
For lobster rolls, my experience has been that the claws and knuckle meat carries the best texture and flavor, so if you have enough claws and knuckles on hand, save the tails for a more elaborate preparation.
The best results I have had cooking lobsters in my kitchen is a two step technique I learned recently.
This is not so much a recipe as it is a set of guidelines.
Put a knife through the lobsters head (supposedly the humane way to kill it) then plunge it in two gallons of boiling water that has 2 tablespoons salt, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar added to it, for one minute.
Remove lobsters from water, separate head from claws and tail. Reserve head for other use (such as making lobster stock). Put the claw, knuckles and tail in roasting pan then into a pre-heated 400 degree oven and roast till meat is 140 degrees F.
Remove the meat from the claw, knuckles and tail.
Cut into LARGE bite sized pieces and toss with a VERY good brand of mayonnaise while the meat is still warm. Use about 3 teaspoons of mayo per cup of lobster meat, then refrigerate in a colander so the excess juices leak out.

That’s the purist version of preparing the meat.
You may also add salt, old bay seasoning, small diced onions and/or celery, chopped tarragon and/or chives, or a squeeze of lemon juice to your personal taste.
Try to restrain yourself from adding too many aromatics/ingredients as each addition steals some of the thunder from the fresh and delicate flavor of the lobster meat which is the highlight of the dish after all.

The BUN:
Top split white hot dog bun.
Open out (butterfly) the bun, and slowly toast in a generous amount of butter in a sauté pan, cast iron griddle or toaster oven on both sides.
This is not about healthy, this is about GOODNESS, and will compromise the whole recipe if you use anything other than REAL unadulterated butter.
Overstuff the bun with the lobster meat and serve!

You may substitute Caribbean lobster meat using a similar cooking technique; not exactly the same experience, but still quite tasty.

Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cook offs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS  when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s  The Today Show , Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewed Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr Spence’s first entrepreneurial endeavour.


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