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Top Shelf: Antigua lobster case in point for buying local

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Top Shelf: by Chef Tim MacDonald

One of the biggest expenditures during a week-long or 10-day charter is the caviar and lobsters. And one of the biggest annoyances – and any charter chef worth their salt will agree – is the token one or two dead lobsters that turn up in the batch.

For the novice chef who orders exactly enough lobsters, it’s a steep learning curve to discover that the provisioner has passed on to you the cost of a completely useless and very expensive crustacean. Split in two, the dissection shows little or no meat – and its all downhill from here, if you are on the hook.

I began insisting on only wild or sea-caught lobsters a few years ago. It’s not rocket science, really: a fresh, locally caught product cooked simply. That’s what it’s all about.

When split, the tail is full, the tract and entrails an attractive color, and the head holds a healthy volume of whatever that stuff is.

Once you’ve tried a fresh Antiguan lobster, you will never go back to the Canadian lobsters, which often spend their entire life swimming around in tanks in pitiful conditions.

This recipe is a definitive example of using local product in a local way. It’s also what the guests are asking for. It’s healthy, local, and when the guests ask where I got the lobster, the answer is easy – I simply point to the ocean.

ANTIGUAN LOBSTER WITH SPICED PUMPKIN SMASH AND BLACK QUINOA

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 3 Antiguan lobsters
  • 2 Antiguan butternut pumpkins bought at St. Johns market
  • 2 cups of black quinoa, wild rice and mung beans
  • 1 bag of Joanne’s local lime leaves (approximately 12)
  • 30 baby nasturtium leaves, locally grown
  • 1 teaspoon of local, freshly ground allspice
  • 3 teaspoons chopped coriander
  • Locally grown limes
  • Avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Steam lobster until the top of the tail near the head reads 55-60 C when a meat thermometer is inserted. Shell and marinate in juice of locally grown limes.

Roast butternut pumpkins in foil, then smash the flesh with the allspice and chopped coriander.

Cook black quinoa, wild rice and mung beans until tender and toss with avocado oil, salt and pepper.

De-stalk lime leaves and whizz in the crew bullet with salt, pepper and avocado oil to produce a vibrant citrus oil.

Assembly

Push two separate layers of both the macro quinoa mix and the warm spice pumpkin into a salad ring.

Add a medallion of the lobster, which should be at room temperature

Finish the dish with the lime oil, then the nasturtiums to add a peppery punch.

Tim MacDonald (timothymacdonald.weebly.com) has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.

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