How to host a true Canadian lobster boil party: Menu and tips

From how to buy lobster and how to cook them, our best tips and menu for a lobster cook out

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lobster claw with lemon
Masterfile

If you haven’t yet had a chance to enjoy some Canadian lobsters, well get to it! Truly one of Canada’s most coveted delicacies, lobsters make the perfect party food. Whether you decide to boil, bake, poach, pan roast, saute, steam or broil – lobster is guaranteed to please. It also forces even the most sophisticated foodies to wear a bib and get really, really sloppy.

Buying lobster
When it comes to purchasing lobster, it is essential that they are alive before cooking. Lobsters should show significant signs of movement – a limp or even sluggish lobster should not be eaten. Typically, Canadian lobsters vary in colour from greenish-blue to brown or even olive. They will often have orange tips. Regardless of the colour of the live lobster, they will cook up bright red.

How to boil lobster
1. Find the biggest pot you can, and fill it 3/4 full with water. It is important to have adequate room to cook the lobsters – otherwise when you add them to the boiling water it will bring the temperature down to much. The general rule is: approximately 4L of water to every 1 lb pound of lobster.

2. Add salt…lots of salt. The water you boil lobster in should taste as salty as the sea.

3. Once your water comes to a rapid boil, submerge the lobsters head first and boil uncovered. The cook time begins once the water has returned to a boil.

4. A 1-1 1/4 lb lobster will need 10-12 minutes to cook. A 1 1/2 lb lobster will need between 14 -16 minutes. Female lobsters tend to take longer to cook. Remove from water and serve immediately – or if you prefer cold lobster, immediately plunge them in ice water and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

A lobster boil menu

Appetizer
If you are looking to have a nibbly on your table while your guests arrive, an excellent precursor to lobster is anything with avocado. Try setting out some flat bread or corn chips with this quick and easy tomato guacamole.

Sides
Lobster loves the salty-smooth richness of white miso. Anju’s grilled asparagus doenjang (a fancy white miso) is the perfect side to throw on the grill while the lobsters are cooking. Another unexpected and delicious vegetable side is our cool cauliflower salad. The smoky cumin and chilies pair very nicely with lobster.

Salad
Lobster is amazingly low in fat, and carbohydrates. Therefore, adding a starch as a side dish is a great way to balance the meal. Our summer corn-pasta salad is a delicious veggie-packed salad with basil and citrus flavours that accompany the lobster beautifully. A light and lively salad that will also work great on this table is a fresh fennel salad with lemon. Both fennel and lemon are excellent friends with lobster.

Dessert
I am convinced that there is only one dessert that will do for your lobster party, and it is the no-bake lemon mascarpone cheesecake. How am I so sure? Because tried, tested, and true – this is what I brought to our family lobster boil and it was a huge hit – not a crumb left. It is crisp and velvety smooth. Served very cold (even par-frozen) it is the perfect finish to such a perfect meal.

Drink
Oakey, buttery chardonnay is the classic wine pairing for lobster. I’ve done my fair share of testing on this theory and I can tell you…it’s a good one! Lobster is rich and intense in flavour, and needs a wine that can stand up to that. If chardonnay isn’t your thing, then go for either a dry gewurztraminer or riesling.

Originally published July 18th, 2012.