Lobster: Cheaper than Bologna

By Toni Waterman   |   Tuesday, July 17, 2012
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July 17, 2012

Listen: Toni Waterman reports and WGBH science editor Heather Goldstone adds her perspective.

SOUTH BOSTON, Mass. — If you’re the type of person who associates lobster with big, celebratory events, then you’re in luck. With prices lower than they’ve been in decades, something as simple as — well, a Tuesday night can be reason to celebrate.
It’s 6 a.m. at Medeiros Dock in South Boston. The sun is just coming up as lobsterman Steven Holler gets his boat, the November Gale, ready for a day at sea. He steps into his bright orange bib pants, slips on his galoshes and then effortlessly glides his boat to the bait dock.
He loads $700 worth of fish on to the deck. And by 6:15, Holler and his crew of one set off to haul lobster traps in the waters off Boston’s Harbor Islands.
Lobsters, lobsters everywhere
In 35 years in the business, Holler says he’s never seen a lobster season quite like this one. It all started this spring.
“We came out to haul that gear expecting to get 30 or 40 pounds and what we saw was just totally off the charts. Something we’ve never seen before. There were just lobsters everywhere,” he says.
Plentiful catches came early, flooding the lobster market up the East Coast. And since it was May, there weren’t enough tourists to eat them up.
And if there’s one thing we all learned in economics class: Surpluses make prices plummet.
Lobstermen in the Boston area are getting $3 - $3.50 a pound right now. Retail prices are a bit higher at around $5, which means that the price is running pretty equal to a bologna sandwich.
“I looked at a slip from last year and it was anywhere between $4.50 - $4.75 per pound,” says Holler. "The price we’re getting is something like you’d get in the '80s — mid-'80s. And we’re paying 2012 fuel prices, bait prices and labor prices.”
The problem in a nut lobster shell
Lobster is even cheaper further north: The Wall Street Journal reports that some lobstermen in Maine are getting as low as $1.25 a pound. And it doesn’t seem to be going up anytime soon, because now there’s another factor dragging prices down: soft-shells. Those are lobsters that have just shed their shells and are growing into new, bigger ones.
The shedding process usually doesn’t start until mid-July, but lobstermen this year have been catching soft-shells since May.
“A soft-shell lobster is veal in the lobster world,” says Holler. “It is tender. It is sweet.”
Sweet, but fragile — too fragile to ship long distances, which puts even more lobsters in the Northeast supply chain.
A solution: Eat up
“The public has to know: there’s a lot of lobsters out there,” says Holler. “So the more lobster people buy, hopefully it will be better for the industry and hopefully that trickles down to the fisherman.”
There’s one more big factor playing in this perfect storm: Canadian processing plants, which usually buy up any extra lobsters, aren’t. They had strong catches this season too and already have their own backlog of lobsters.
Still, Holler says he will keep setting his traps, even if it means catching too much of a good thing.

Bill Adler of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association talks about the problem on Greater Boston.

Shrimp Stew with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes & Cilantro

By Susie Middleton   |   Friday, January 27, 2012
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shrimp stew

Serves: 6 to 8


3 lb. jumbo (21 to 25 per lb.) shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into very thin 1-1/2-inch-long strips
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
14.5-oz. can petite-diced tomatoes, drained
13.5- or 14-oz. can coconut milk
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice


In a large bowl, sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tsp. salt; toss to coat, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add the scallion whites, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, the garlic, and the pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer to blend the flavors and thicken the sauce slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and continue to cook, partially covered and stirring frequently, until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on 8 servings; Calories (kcal): 270; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 29; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): 6; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 580; Cholesterol (mg): 250; Fiber (g): 1;

Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine.

Summer Cooking Tips from The Summer Shack

By WGBH News   |   Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Jul. 15, 2011

A tasty lobster plate (jazzy4flickr/flickr)


BOSTON — It's hard to find someone who knows more about New England seafood than Jasper White. White owns the popular Summer Shack in Cambridge, and he joined WGBH's Emily Rooney to give some tips on cooking lobster, charcoal grilling and buying fresh seafood.

Cooking Lobster

  • Don't boil lobster, steam it. It cooks slower, the meat gets more tender, and not as tough as when you boil it.

  • Make a rack out of an upside-down colander or out of rock weed instead of buying a new one.

  • Put an egg in the pot. When the egg is cooked, the lobster is cooked.

Charcoal Grilling

  • Buy a big charcoal grill. Charcoal adds a smokey flavor to your meat or fish.

  • Make a big concentrated fire.This way you can use a large range of temperatures.

  • The smaller the meat or fish, the larger the fires should be.

  • When grilling chicken, cover the grill so it acts as an oven.

Buying Fresh Seafood

  • If you're close to the source, go to the source. Buy from fishermen coming back in for the day.

  • Create a relationship with who runs the market. They always know what's best to buy that day.

  • Fresh fish has a shiny look.

  • Fresh fish does NOT have an odor. If it does, it's a few days old.

These tips and full recipies are found in Jasper's cookbok, The Summer Shack Cookbook, now avaliable in paperback.

Crab Cakes With Roasted Pepper And Garlic Aioli By Annie Copps

Friday, April 8, 2011
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crab cakes with aioli

From the Barking Crab, a stalwart Boston restaurant on the Waterfront, come these classic crab cakes, full of sweet crab meat and just enough crumbs to hold them together.

Begin this yummy seafood favorite by sautéing onions, celery and garlic until softened and fragrant. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Gently fold in unseasoned bread crumbs, parsley and tarragon, some mustard and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco for brightness and good flavor. And of course fresh crab meat.

Form this mix into patties and gently pan fry until crispy and browned on both sides. You can make them 3-inches wide and serve with a salad for a special lunch or dinner OR make them 1-inch wide for a special passed appetizer. To take these to higher heights of deliciousness, serve them with a garlic aioli, made from mayonnaise, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic cloves.

The aioli, on the other hand, is much less garlicky than traditional Mediterranean aioli. At the restaurant the cakes are deep fried, however we found that shallow, pan frying worked just as well.

Yield: 9 servings

Ingredients for the Crab Cakes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups fine dry, plain breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco sauce
1 1/4 pounds crabmeat, picked through for shell bits
1/4 cup finely diced red or yellow bell pepper
vegetable oil for frying

In a small saute pan over medium heat, add oil and cook onion and celery; until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool. Add 1 cup of the bread crumbs, herbs, mustard, salt, Worcestershire, Tabasco, crabmeat, and pepper and thoroughly mix.

Form the mixture into patties about ½-inch thick and 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Spread remaining cup of bread crumbs on a plate. Turn each crab cake in crumbs to lightly coat. Set coated cakes on a wire rack and let them dry for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, heat 1/4 inch of oil. Add crab cakes, keeping them well separated, and fry until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Serve on a bed of greens and top with Roasted Pepper and Garlic Aioli.

Roasted Pepper and Garlic Aioli Ingredients

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups of sauce

1 large red bell pepper
3 large cloves garlic, do not peel
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1 scant tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper

Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Place pepper on it and lightly press (or place under broiler—keep an eye on it). Roast pepper, turning and pressing, until all sides are and blackened. Place unpeeled garlic cloves on pan and roast, without pressing, until they are browned on all sides. Remove garlic and set aside.

Place pepper in a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle. Remove blackened outer skin of the pepper, remove veins and seeds. Peel garlic.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree pepper and garlic. Add mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper; pulse to combine.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)
annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Coriander-Crusted Tuna Salad Niçoise

By By Ming Tsai   |   Monday, January 3, 2011
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Coriander-Crusted Tuna Salad Niçoise

I've always enjoyed composed salads—salads with multiple ingredients, artfully arranged. Among these, Salade Niçoise is probably the best known and most widely enjoyed.

It features tuna—traditionally, canned albacore. I've "upped" the dish by using fresh, coriander-coated tuna that's quickly sautéed, plus frisée dressed with a sprightly caper-and-olive-laced vinaigrette.

Yield: 4 servings

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup ponzu
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped capers
2 tablespoons chopped pitted Niçoise olives
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin
olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound center-cut tuna steak, preferably bigeye, cut lengthwise into slices as wide as the tuna's thickness and as long as the steak
3 tablespoons coarsely ground coriander seed
2 small heads frisée lettuce, washed

1. To hard-boil the eggs, bring enough water to cover the eggs to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the eggs into the water and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 14 minutes and transfer the eggs to cold water. When cold, peel and slice the eggs 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

2. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl combine the mustard, shallots, ponzu, sesame oil, capers and olives and whisk to blend. Slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Season the tuna with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread the coriander on a large plate and press the tuna into it on all sides.

4. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Make sure the pan is very hot. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the tuna and sautée on all sides until medium-rare, about 4 minutes. Remove the tuna and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, combine the frisée and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently with the vinaigrette, reserving some for drizzling.

6. Divide the salad among four individual serving plates, top with the tuna, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette, and serve.

Drink Pairing
A crisp, fruit-forward Sancerre like Lucien Crochet from France

chef ming tsaiMing Tsai is the host and executive producer of public television series Simply Ming and chef/owner of Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Mass.

Salmon Burgers
By Annie Copps

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
0 Comments   0 comments.

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salmon burger

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a sweet juicy burger along with some crispy fries as much as the next person, but how about a healthy and tasty twist on tradition?

The health benefits of salmon and their super hero omega-3 fatty acids are getting a lot of attention and for good reason. If you are hankering for a new way to enjoy salmon, how about disguised as a burger?

Start by finely chopping one pound of salmon. With a fork or clean hands, mix in chopped scallions, mustard, some Worcestershire sauce, and some lemon juice for some brightness and a dash of Tabsaco for some heat. Knead in bread crumbs and form into patties. Pop them in the fridge for a bit to help them set-up, then pan-fry them in a drizzle of olive oil. Top with lettuce if you like and you've got a great twist on a classic.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 pound salmon, skinned
4 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 hamburger buns
tartar sauce (or ranch dressing)

Into a large bowl, finely chop/shred salmon. With your hands or a large fork, mix in scallions, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Tabasco (if using), and bread crumbs.

Form into 4 patties, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour (and up to 6).

When ready to cook, let patties rest out of the fridge 20 minutes. Heat a medium pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil for and cook patties about 3 minutes per side.

Burgers should be cooked through and crispy on the outside.

Toast hamburger buns, then top each with lettuce, salmon burgers, and dressing.

About the Authors
Susie Middleton Susie Middleton
Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine and the author of veggie cookbooks Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh & Green Table.

Follow her on Twitter at @sixburnersue
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 


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