Friday, 27 March 2015

Exquisite Lobster stew recipe – the secret is in the sherry

Exquisite lobster stew.

Lobster stew can be made with just three ingredients – lobster, butter and milk.  I grew up on this simple version, made occasionally by my mother from left over lobster meat.   

Simple seafood stews and chowders, as I wrote in my article on Julia Child's lobster bisque, are staples in many homes and most restaurants along Maine’s rocky coast.  The famous chef Jasper White even described lobster stew as “mother’s milk” for Downeast families in his book, Lobster At Home. It is our ultimate comfort food.

Recently I have had the opportunity to experience and experiment with more dynamic versions of lobster stew, which use cream, stock and sherry to add richness and depth to the dish.  I have had the pleasure of dining at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport and enjoying their award-winning lobster stew. It was so good it gave me goose bumps.  When I asked the waitress what the secret was to achieving such an exquisite taste she replied, 'it's all that sherry!'  

I have also constructed my own version of lobster stew, inspired by various descriptions of the popular Jordan Pond House recipe. While stock and cream certainly contribute to the below recipe's flavor, it is the sherry, in combination with the lobster, that plays the starring role.  Especially when you are working from previously frozen lobster meat as I often have to do, a healthy dash of sherry helps lift the flavor of the lobster and take the stew to a new level of lusciousness.    

Ingredients for a delicious lobster stew.

Lobster Stew Recipe

Adapted from the Jordan Pond House lobster stew recipe.


Meat of one small lobster (note: I had to work from previously frozen lobster but recommend using fresh lobster if possible)
3 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of milk
1 cup of light cream
½ cup of sherry
1 tablespoon of stock or seafood base (I used some previously frozen leftover stock from a lobster bisque I'd made) 
3 and ½ tablespoons of butter
white pepper
black pepper


Cook the lobster. Remove the meat and cut it into bite-sized chunks.  Heat three tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add the lobster and seafood stock (or base) to the pan, sprinkle with paprika and sauté on a low heat for about 6 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for another four minutes. Add a dash of white pepper, salt and pepper then remove from the heat. 

Add the milk and cream to a saucepan and cook under low heat until scalded (until tiny bubbles form on the edges of the saucepan but without letting the milk come to a boil). Pour the scalded milk/cream mixture into your saucepan of sauteed lobster (you may want to adjust how much of the mixture you use, depending how much lobster you have.  I didn't pour in all my milk/cream mixture). 

If time permits, let the stew chill in a refrigerator over night or sit in a double boiler for an hour or so to enrich the flavor (while I always use a double boiler to enhance the flavor of my lobster newburg, I ate this lobster stew directly after it was cooked and it still tasted amazing).

Enjoy!  If you would like to read about other classic lobster soup recipes, here is a lobster bisque recipe and here is a lobster bouillabaisse recipe.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Official 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Racing Schedule

Maine lobster boat racing.  Photo courtesy of Billy Kitchen.

The official 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Races schedule has just been posted and I am sharing it below along with a few notes (some of them courtesy of Travis Otis).

The 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Race Schedule

Boothbay Harbor: June 20th.  This is a points race and best viewed via boat.

Rockland: June 21st.  This is a points race and best viewed via Rockland Breakwater.  This race has good prizes and draws a nice crowd of local boys and big boats from the surrounding islands. Expect lots of rafting up and partying.

Bass Harbor: June 28th.  This is a non-points race, best viewed via boat. A blessing of the fleet takes place after the races.

Moosabec Reach: July 4th.  This is a points race best viewed via the Beals Island bridge. This is perhaps the most iconic race of the season as Maine lobster boat racing as we know it originated in these sheltered waters between Jonesport and Beals Island.  The races are always highly competitive and the towns host Fourth of July events alongside the racing.

Searsport: July 11th.  This is a points race and best viewed from Mosman Park or the town landing.

Stonington: July 12th.  This is a points race and best viewed via boat.  A pancake breakfast is held before the races and crab meat rolls are served in the odd fellows hall after (you haven't lived until you've had a Stonington crab meat roll)!

Friendship: July 19th.  This is a points race best viewed via boat.

Harpswell: July 26th.  This is a points race best viewed via boat.

Winter Harbor: August 8th.  This is a points race best viewed via boat.  The races form part of a wider Downeast Maine Lobster Festival held in the town that day.  The festival itself is well worth a visit and includes a pancake breakfast, parade and lobster dinner.

Long Island: August 15th.  This is a points race best viewed via boat.

Portland/Pemaquid: August 16th.  The Pemaquid race is a non-points race best viewed from the top of the tower at Pemaquid Colonial Park.  The races form part of the Eastport Pirate Festival which includes everything from live music and fireworks to lobster crate races, parades and a 'friendly' invasion of the neighboring town of Lubec.  A wonderful, festive experience.  The Portland race is a points race and best viewed from Fort Allen Park. The Portland lobster boat races form part of the MS Harborfest Weekend, which also includes a regatta and a tug boat muster.

Feel free to add comments or insights to the above or to share your experience of any of the races you attend!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ten Brilliant Books About Maine Lobster Fishing

Christina Lemieux Book
A proud author - signing copies of my Maine lobster fishing book in 2012.

Today is World Book Day. It has made me reflect on my love of reading and my pride in achieving one of my lifelong goals - becoming a published author.
It has been almost three years since I wrote How To Catch A Lobster In Down East Maine. My life has been so consumed by my career and motherhood in the years since that I often forget there is a book sitting on my bookshelf with my name running down the spine.
That book now sits alongside many other wonderful books on Maine lobster fishing which were an inspiration and an invaluable resource to me during the writing process. In honor of World Book Day, here are ten books which offer an authentic look at the iconic world of lobstering.
The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier.  A great cultural history of Maine, providing an interesting, in depth account of how Maine was settled and how Maine lobster fishing evolved into the thriving business it is today.  It also offers some great insight into why Mainers are such rugged, stoic characters.  A beautiful and insightful read.
The Lobster Chronicles: Life On a Very Small Island. A laugh-out-loud story of lobster fishing on a small island in Maine, written by a native.
The Lobster Gangs of Maine. A fascinating sociological study of Maine fishermen, written several decades ago but still referenced today. If you're interested in learning about 'trap wars' (also referred to as 'lobster wars'), this book is for you.
How to Catch a Lobster in Down East Maine.  My book, more of a primer than a memoir, provides a comprehensive, insider’s account of what it's like to be a Maine lobster fishermen. It focuses on lobster fishing along the Downeast coast and covers everything from the lingo used by lobster fishermen and what happens during a day on the boat to the unwritten rules of lobster fishing, lobster conservation and lobster recipes.
The Lobstering Life. A beautiful, photographic journey through the daily lives of Maine lobster fishermen.
There are also some great children's books that bring Maine and lobster fishing to life for little ones. My favorites are as follows:
Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man. An adventurous tale with beautiful illustrations by Robert Mccloskey. Great for kids aged three to eight.
One Morning in Maine. Another Mccloskey classic, about the adventures of an island family in Maine. Good for four to eight-year-olds.
Lobsterman. Chosen as one of Yankee Magazine's Top 100 Classic Children's Books, it tells the story of a day in the life of a lobsterman's son, working alongside his father. For ages 4 and up.
Counting Our Way to Maine. I read this book to my daughter before bed every night when she was about two years old. She loved it and when we would get to the lobster fishing page she would point to the fisherman in his boat and exclaim 'Gramp!'
Going Lobstering. A simple picture book about a day out on the boat. Great for little ones, six months old and up.
Books on Maine Lobster Fishing
A bookshelf stocked with Maine lobster books, including my own.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Maine Lobster Boat Races 2015 Schedule - Tentative

UPDATE: The official 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Racing schedule has now been published and can be found here.

I noticed this week that some people have been visiting my blog looking for the 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Races Schedule.  While the official schedule has yet to be published, I did manage to find the tentative race schedule which was printed in the 2014 Maine Lobster Boat Racing Newsletter.  I am reposting that schedule below and will be sure to post the official schedule when available.

The Tentative 2015 Maine Lobster Boat Races Schedule

June 13th - Boothbay Harbor Lobster Boat Races
June 14th - Rockland Lobster Boat Races
June 28th - Bass Harbor Lobster Boat Races

July 4th -  Moosebec Reach Lobster Boat Races
July 11th - Searsport Lobster Boat Races
July 12th - Stonington Lobster Boat Races
July 19th - Friendship Lobster Boat Races
July 26th - Harpswell Lobster Boat Races

August 8th - Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races
August 9th - Merritt Brackett Lobster Boat Races
August 15th - Long Island Lobster Boat Races
August 16th - MS Harborfest Lobster Boat Races

If you'd like more information on the Maine Lobster Boat Races, including information on the fishing villages in which the races take place, just click here.