Instead of the the standard burgers and dogs, why not treat your guests to a decadent lobster dinner party this Labor Day? Delivered in plenty of time for your Labor Day feast: fresh seafood, New England clam chowder, and live lobsters fresh off the fishing boats of Maine. Be the host at your own Lobster […]
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A classic Maine lobster bake prepared the old-fashioned way is steamed in seaweed and ocean water. Food writer, Craig Clairborne called the lobster bake “…the most colorful, joyous and festive of American feasts.” Lobster bakes are fun, memorable, and informal. It’s also a lot of work!
The tradition of the clambake goes way back to our Native Americans who taught the settlers the art of steaming fresh seafood on the shores of New England. The New England clambake is generally credited to the Wampanoag Indians, indigenous to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Wampanoag generally did not eat lobster, but used it as bait to catch local fish. Native oysters, scallops, sea clams and locally cultivated corn and squash would all key ingredients to their clam bake. A typical modern clambake consists of lobster, clams, mussels, potatoes, and corn. Fish, sausage, chicken, are also commonly used by bakemasters. Today this ancient cooking form is enjoyed wherever there is blue ocean, sandy beaches, and live Maine lobsters.
The art of preparing a traditional pit-dug clam bake is still practiced by a few local bakemasters. It takes a lot of hard work and patience since it’s a day long affair. If you own your own beach, or there are no local restrictions for open fires you are in luck. Clam bakes have become popular culinary experience because they feature seafood lovers favorite entrée–Maine lobster.
Clam Bake Ingredients
The main ingredients for a traditional clam bake, besides live Maine lobsters, include: fresh clams or mussels, corn in the husks, new potatoes, onions, and even sausages (such as kielbasa or chorizo). For the clam bake you will also need fire wood, smooth rocks, rockweed seaweed, a canvas, tarp or potato sacks to trap the steam.
STEP 1: Walk the beach in the early morning with friends and gather up some fresh seaweed, drift wood to build your fire, and rocks to line the bottom of your pit.
STEP 2: Dig your pit and line the bottom with large rocks. Top your rocks with your drift wood.
STEP 3: Build a fire on top of the stones. Tend to your fire until the rocks become red hot. Make sure the stones are hot enough to glow or at least spit back ocean water.
STEP 4: Rake off as much ash off the rocks as possible, and pile a layer of seaweed on the rocks.
STEP 5: Layer the rocks with potatoes, corn, onion, clams, and live lobsters. Top with more seaweed and cover with a tarp or a potato sack drenched in seawater.
STEP 6: Bake your seafood for at least two hours. A good sign the food is cooked to perfection is to check the potatoes first. If they are soft, your clam bake is done.
Gather with friends and family and dig in. Serve your steamed seafood and bright red lobsters with melted butter and fresh lemon wedges. Don’t forget the lobster crackers and seafood forks.
Maine Lobster Bake at Home
No beaches near you? No problem. You can have a mini bake in your backyard on the grill. No fire permits necessary and you don’t have to dig a hole and start a big wood fire. It is faster and more convenient to heat up charcoal briquettes than rocks in the sand! Besides if your not a bakemaster, getting all your food cooked evenly on an open fire takes a lot of practice. You can bake a combination of lobsters, clams, ears of corn, and red potatoes.
First, soak some seaweed in a bucket of water. Next, wrap your fresh seafood in a cheese cloth with a layer of seaweed and a splash of water. Wrap this up tight in a packet of aluminum foil. Cook on the grill at medium heat for approximately 40 minutes with the cover closed. When your potatoes are soft, your lobster bake is done!
Some good choices for dessert include watermelon slices, strawberry shortcake or blueberry cobbler.
Summer is finally here! Time for a New England lobster bake featuring the Maine ingredient, live lobsters. But you don’t have to fight beach traffic or dig a big hole in your backyard for this lobster bake version.
Lobster Bake Ingredients
4 dozen steamer clams [ingredient]
6 potatoes, skin on
6 ears of corn with the husk on
6 medium whole onions
melted or drawn butter
6 live lobsters, about 1 ¼ lb. each.
1.Fill the bottom of pot with 6 inches of wet seaweed.
2.Divide the steamers among 6 pieces of cheesecloth and tie corners so you can pick them up. Place on seaweed.
3.Remove silk and all but two layers of corn husk from the corn. Place corn, potatoes, onions and sausage over the clams in that order. Top off with the lobsters. Put a layer of cheesecloth over the lobsters and cover with another 4 inches of seaweed.
4.Cover closely and place pot over high heat. When steaming begins, reduce heat to medium and cook for one hour and 15 minutes.
Serve with hot crusty bread and melted butter.
If you don’t live on the beach, no problem! Here is a simple recipe for a lobster bake at home.
Lobster Bake Ingredients
5 lbs. seaweed
4 sm. onions
4 sm. red potatoes
4 (1 1/2 lbs. ea.) Live Lobsters
4 ears sweet corn, shucked except the innermost leaves
2 lbs. mussels
2 cups water
Lobster Bake Instructions
Place a one-inch layer of seaweed (a layer of crumpled aluminum foil to raise lobsters off the bottom of pan will do) in a 16 x 12 roasting pan. Parboil onions and potatoes. Place lobsters on seaweed and arrange the corn and onions between the lobsters and the sides of the pan. Place clams, mussels and potatoes over the lobsters, keeping top level. Layer with the balance of the seaweed and add water to the pan. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and place on the stove or a preheated grill to cook. Start timing when you first see steam. Cook, covered , for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, but do not uncover for five minutes. Serve your lobster bake with clarified butter, clam broth and coleslaw.
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