Seafood and summertime go hand in hand. Baked and fried or steamed and served chilled, shellfish is the perfect warm weather treat. Known for their sweet, succulent flavor and meaty flesh, lobster anchors many seasonal menus across the Northeast. Thanks to a unique partnership between Stew Leonard's and dozens of Maine lobstermen, seafood lovers can enjoy the ocean's freshest offerings without ever having to bait a trap.
“A fresh lobster, a few ears of our local corn and a great glass of chardonnay is my favorite summertime meal,” said Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of Stew Leonard’s. Each year, Stew Leonard’s sells nearly 1,000,000 pounds of lobster and more than 200,000 lobster rolls, making the store one of the largest seafood purveyors in the region. With demand this high, Stew Leonard's goes right to the source to acquire their seasonal delicacy.
Each morning, boats from Deer Island, Maine fish the cold, rocky waters of the Atlantic Ocean catching lobsters that will be sold directly to Stew Leonard’s. From the traps to the docks, lobsters are packaged and shipped directly to Stew Leonard’s. In many cases, just a few short hours after being caught, the Maine lobsters are ready for sale. This same-day turnaround results in an unbeatable flavor that can only be found in fresh, wild-caught lobster.
Once purchased and brought home, lobster should be cooked immediately. Although fresh lobsters can store in a cardboard box for up to 24 hours, steaming the crustaceans the same day is the simplest -- and tastiest -- method of cooking. To do so, heat a large pot of sea or salted water and place the lobsters on a steaming rack. Cook for roughly 15-20 minutes. Don't worry, lobsters won't feel a thing. The shellfish lack a cerebral cortex, which is the area of the brain that senses pain.
Once steamed and plated, it's time to get cracking. Start by splitting the body in two and removing the legs. The legs, leg joints, tail, claws and knuckles all contain ample meat. For adventurous eaters, the lobster’s digestive system -- also known as "the green stuff" -- and its red roe are considered delicacies. Dieters also needn't fear; lobster is incredibly healthy and contains only 90 calories in 3.5 oz of meat.
Unfortunately for both fishermen and foodies, lobsters in the wild are very slow growers. In fact, it takes five years for one lobster to grow a single pound. This slow growth rate has caused stocks to plummet due to overfishing, but regulation and smart sourcing has resulted in a significant boom in the Northeast's lobster population. At the forefront of this environmental awareness is Stew Leonard's and the store's fishing fleet. "My family feels good that for every lobster we catch, we throw two back into the ocean," said Leonard Jr.
For more lobster recipes, tips and tricks, visit Stew Leonard's or click here.