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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012

KITCHEN COUNSELOR

Can the cans: go fresh for lobster, crab



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Can the cans: go fresh for lobster, crab photo
This spring-loaded plastic tong should work well for serving salad as well as pasta. It is dishwasher safe. Photo by GHOLAM RAHMAN

By Gholam Rahman

Q. My deceased husband used to love to cook and he made dishes with canned lobster. We used to get it at Costco or Publix and it was kept with the canned crab meat in the meat department, not on the shelf. I am trying to find some now as it makes life so much easier because I don’t have to tear a lobster apart with all of the mess. Do you know where I can obtain this item? I have looked in every store I can think of. Your help would be most appreciated. Thanks. – Connie Hanson, via e-mail

A. Food, flavor and old memories – they are so intimately connected! Many of the great meals in my own life have had this element as an essential ingredient.

To the question at hand: yes you are right; these stores do not carry the canned stuff anymore. And I can’t blame them. Canned lobster meat is still available on line, but if you read the reviews, you are apt to lose your appetite for even this lordly treat pretty quickly. Apparently, the delicate lobster meat doesn’t take too kindly to being “sardine” canned in some faux brine and stored on grocery shelves for ages.

But don’t give up yet. Why not go fresh? No, not the whole lively critter with it s snapping pincer claws. I wouldn’t expect anyone at our age to be going about blithely plunging a living thing into boiling water and then tackling such messy cleaning chores. Would take much of the fun away, wouldn’t it?

What I’m suggesting is that look for fresh lobsters tails, all cleaned and cut, at your local seafood markets. They sell live lobsters, from both Maine and Florida, and most of them will cut and clean them for you without charge. Some may even cook it for you free. They also have a variety of frozen lobsters – cooked or uncooked – including whole lobsters, tails only, or even separated meat from the body, claw and knuckle. And the best part is that they are much cheaper than those crummy canned lobster meat.

At Cod & Capers Seafood in North Palm Beach (561-622-0994), on a recent day, market price for 1- to 1 and half-pounders was $13.95 a pound, 2-pounders were$14.95. Frozen tails were $27.95 per pounds, whole lobster meat was $25.95 for a 12-ounce frozen package, and frozen claw and knuckle meat was $75 for a 2-pound package. The prices, which may fluctuate with the day’s market price, are approximately the same at Neptune Fish Market in Lake Worth (561-585-8844). It shouldn’t be too different at any seafood market near you.

There is even better news from Costco, where you used to buy the canned ones. Frozen whole lobster tails were just $19.99 a pound. They are uncooked and from Brazilian waters, but with the Costco quality assurance, it should be good. One caution: All uncooked lobster meat should be properly cooked before being eaten. It takes a little longer to cook than shrimp, although overcooking may turn lobster meat tough, too.

Costco, and presumably other local stores, also have canned crab meat, which hold up better in processing than the more delicate lobster. You can easily substitute it for lobster meat in any recipes without much appreciable difference. And both canned and frozen crab meat is more easily available. I hope I’ve been able to help you in recreating some happy memories.

NOTES FROM OUR KITCHEN

Have you ever tried to serve cooked pasta with a fork or a spoon, even large ones, especially if you have broken them before being boiled? They have a frustrating habit of slithering right out of your grasp just when you think you have the critters cornered. Not any more, with this handy tong with their clawed catchers. It is billed as a salad tong – for which it will also be equally adept – but when I saw it at Ross a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking more of the slippery pasta. And at $2.49, the price was within grasp as well.

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