We’re lucky enough to get a few lobsters in our pots, which are on rocky ledges about 6 miles off the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Every 4 days, the Compass Rose heads out to haul, empty, sort the catch, rebait and reshoot our 40 pots. Lobsters are kept alive whilst onboard in makeshift holding tanks – the deck hose blasting fresh seawater through stacked fishboxes – and then go straight into the live tank in the Fish Store. In the summer, nothing beats barbecued lobster – lightly charred sweet flesh topped with fresh, piquant butter.
1) Pick out your lobster from the live tank in the Fish Store
2) Prepare your lobster for humane cooking by placing it in the freezer for about 2 hours.
3) Make the lime and chilli butter by mixing together 125g unsalted softened butter, 1/2 clove garlic, 1 medium red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped), the juice and finely grated zest of 2 small limes, salt and fresh ground pepper.
4) Remove the lobster and split right down its length with a heavy chopping knife. (Start with the tip of the knife in the centre of the head, blade facing the lobster’s nose. Be sure to cut right down through the bottom shell. Don’t worry, lobsters have nothing you could call a brain. Now swivel the knife around 180 degrees and follow the line of your first cut in the opposite direction down through the tail.)
5) Cleaning: look out for the black vein that runs the length of the tail. It is most likely to appear one side or the other of your longitudinal cut. This is the lobster’s digestive tract and should be removed and discarded. Now turn to the head; a small, gritty stomach sac just behind the mouth along with the gills can be chucked. Leave the rest – the pinkish, brown meat is the lobster’s liver (called tomalley) and sets firm and turns pink when cooked. In females, you will also see red coral to the bottom of the body which again is quite delicious.
6) Season the cut surfaces and brush with a little olive oil
7) Put the lobster halves, cut side down, onto a searing-hot barbecue. After 2-3 minutes turn the lobster over. Dot the flavoured butter all over the seared flesh and cook for a further minute or two so the butter melts and dribbles into the shell.
8) Serve straight away with good bread, salad and perhaps some homemade mayonnaise.
[TIP: for larger lobster, parboil for 5 minutes before splitting, to help cook all the way through]