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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Naked Lobster

As you know, I love lobster.  When in Maine, there's nothing better than buying live lobsters, cooking and eating them right away.  Delicious.

But there are those who, even though they love to eat lobster, have a hard time with killing their dinner right in the kitchen.  Not to mention the work it takes to get to the meat.

To me, that's the Maine experience--cracking the claws, sucking the meat out of the little legs, taking a big bite of tail meat while butter drips down your chin. 

I guess not everyone agrees with me.  Many folks just want to eat the lobster meat without the killing and cracking.  That's where John Hathaway comes in.

Hathaway opened a lobster shack in Kennebunkport, ME in 2001.  You know the place--plastic bibs, disposable tablecloths on picnic tables.  But what he found was that most people don't want that experience.  They just want to eat the lobster meat.

He found out about an accidental discovery in Louisiana by an oyster distributor who, while playing around with high pressure water to kill bacteria on oysters and extend their shelf life, discovered that the high pressure spray also shucked the oysters.  Hathaway wondered how this technique might work with lobsters.  He headed South to find out.

What he found may actually revolutionize how and where lobster can be shipped and how it can be sold and served.  What happened is that the live lobsters came out of the high pressure spray with 2 differences: they were dead and the meat was totally separated from the shells, but still on the inside.  So once the shells were cracked, the raw lobster meat just slid out.

Needless to say, Hathaway has changed his business plan.  He bought a huge machine that puts the lobsters under high pressure, killing them in 6 seconds and separating the meat in 6 minutes.  He sells to people who don't want to cook and dismantle live lobsters in their homes and to restaurants that save money (and pass some of the savings on to their customers) because they don't have to have space to store live lobsters.  Lobster meat can now be shipped at much less expense (you don't have to keep the critters alive) and can spread the Maine lobster to places that haven't known it before.

For my money, I want the fun of eating a whole lobster.  But I can totally understand the appeal of cooking with raw lobster meat without the hassle.  Read more about this interesting story in this article from Boston.com.

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