Creole Spiny Lobster
In this wildly festive Caribbean dish, spiny lobsters are marinated in a lime-tinged Antilles marinade, sauteed, and served with a spicy mixture of island vegetables and a garnish of plantain and salt cod. Dal puri are flat brads made from lentil flour, and are available from Indian markets. Flour tortillas may be substituted.
- Fresh Spiny (rock) Lobsters - six, 1-1/2 pound, preferably Caribbean, freshly killed
- Antilles Marinade
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Fresh lime juice - 6 tablespoons
- Shallots - 3 tablespoons, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Garlic - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Onion - 1/2 cup, finely sliced
- Fresh or frozen corn kernels - 1/2 cup
- Red Bell Pepper - 1/2 cup, diced
- Scotch bonnet (habanero) chili - 1, seeded and minced
- Dry Sherry - 3 tablespoons
- Curry powder - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Tomatoes - 2 large (8 ounces), peeled, seeded, and finely diced
- Lobster or fish stock - 2 cups
- Christophine (chayote or mirliton squash) - 1/2 cup, finely diced
- Calabaza or Acorn Squash - 1/2 cup, finely diced
- Yellow Yam or Sweet Potato - 1/2 cup, finely diced
- Pigeon Peas or Black-eyed Peas - 1/2, cooked
- Fresh Thyme Leaves - 2 tablespoons
- Fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Plantains - 3, unpeeled
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Calaloo or Spinach - 1 bunch, washed, stemmed, and roughly chopped
- Tomatoes - 2, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Garlic Clove - 1, minced
- Salt Cod - 2 ounces, soaked in 4 changes of warm water for 15 minutes each and rinsed each time, then drained and separated into flakes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- Dal Puri or Flour Tortillas - 6
- Lime Wedges - preferably key limes
To prepare the lobster: Separate the tail from the head of the lobsters. Reserve the heads and bodies for other use, such as stock. Split the tail in half lengthwise, leaving the end attached at the fins. Loosen the meat from the shell, but leave it slightly attached. Place the lobster tail halves, shell-side down, in a shallow dish or non-aluminum pan. Combine all the marinade ingredients and spoon the marinade over the lobster. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes (if it sits too long, the lime juice will begin to cook the lobster meat).
To make the sauce: In a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and onion, then add the corn, pepper, chili, 2 tablespoons of the sherry, and the curry powder. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Pass the sauce through a fine food mill or a fine-meshed sieve and return to the pan. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Over low heat, simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.
To make the vegetable garnish: In a small saucepan over high heat, boil the plantains in lightly salted water until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Peel the plantains and cut one of them into 1/4-inch slices; set the others aside.
In a large saute pan or skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the calaloo or spinach, tomatoes, garlic, and salt cod flakes until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the plantain slices and stir until they are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside; keep warm.
Slice the remaining plantains into very thin lengthwise slices. In a heavy saute pan or skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350 F, or until a bread crumb immediately sizzles and comes to the top when dropped in. Fry the plantain slices, turning once, until they are lightly browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the plantains from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle the slices with salt while they are still warm. Set aside.
To cook the lobsters: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pat the lobsters dry with paper towels. In a large ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and sear the lobsters, cut-side down, until lightly colored, about 2-1/2 minutes. Turn and cook on the shell side for 1 minute. Make sure the heat is not too high in order to prevent the lobster meat from becoming tough. Drain the oil from the pan, return the pan to the heat, and add the remaining tablespoon of sherry. Ladle the sauce over the lobsters and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking, 7 to 8 minutes.
To serve: Preheat the broiler. Fold the dal puri or tortillas into quarters. Place under the broiler for a few minutes, turning once, until toasted on both sides.
Meanwhile, remove the lobster meat completely from the shell and dip the meat briefly into the sauce, then return it to the shells for presentation. Place some of the vegetable garnish in the center of each serving plate and add one split lobster tail to each plate. Spoon sauce over the lobster and onto the plate. Serve with grilled dal puri (or tortillas) and lime wedges, and place a fried plantain slice across each dish.