Apr 7, 2010


(It took me four months to get to the real reason I'm posting about our trip up the West Coast, but I'm here now.  I'm quite impressed with myself.  Two or three more posts might still follow)

We found ourselves with two crayfish.  Rock lobster.  Yes, the legendary Jasus lalandii.  I think I had had it 4 times before: twice just the legs, bought from Snoekies when I was still too young to be allowed wine*.  Then once with friends in Franskraal, they had a boat, nets, etc.  That was the first time I had a whole lobster on my plate.  Then same friends again, a year or so later.  A was in a similar position - between us, we had no experience at all.  And the lobster were too valuable to risk.

I could not stop looking at them.  So we had a photo shoot.  (I think A gave up and had an afternoon nap?  I really don't know.)

They really are very pretty.

Tiny hairs cover their bodies.

After phoning the family members who had longer memories and more experience in this matter, we did the obvious (i.e. what I had wanted to do from the start).  Use a heavy knife to cut it open from below.  Scrape out the head goo and extract the black vein (digestive channel) that runs along the tail.  You should be left with a shell filled with pure white flesh.  Oh so pretty...

Some people boil them first, then put them on the fire.  Some nonsense about making sure it's done.  I don't like that.  It is a quick way to get to a tough, dry crustacean. 

A sliver of butter was slipped into the waiting cavity, then they were rested on a fairly cool fire.  The heat will make the shell turn bright red, you can see the flesh turn opaque as it cooks.  When it looks about halfway done, turn it over for a few more minutes.  Not too long. 

A had conjured up an very good garlic-butter-spring-onion-lemon-more-garlic-and-more-butter bliss, the kind you can only have if you don't have to go to work the following day.  Bread also featured, and lettuce too.  The meal was the most spectacular of the entire six weeks.  Moist and sweet and rich and decadent and indulgent.  A hint of smoke, garlic and butter to balance.  Yet all pure and honest** flavours. You will need fingers and napkins. 

We had a whole one each, sucked it clean to the last leg.  I can understand the fuss. 

* In current quantities, that is.
** The moral issues involved in the procurement had been resolved by then.


Marie said...


I learned - late - that the yucky green stuff is nice. Tomale/tomalley. Not the gritty stuff (ex shells the lobster has eaten), but the really green stuff. It's easier to keep and use if you are boiling the lobster, because then you open the animal when it has cooked, and it doesn't pour all over the place. I add it to the mayonnaise I make for dipping. Or you can add it to the melted butter. Or to the bisque you make from the pounded shell leftovers. It's lekker. Like concentrated kreef essence.

arcadia said...

Ja, dit moet asseblief genoem word dat J die vakansie meer foto's geneem het van kreef as van my. Ons weet nou almal waar die prioriteite le^.

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Marisa said...

Aaaah how I love living vicariously through other people's blogs! Case in point: Never had lobster, but I could almost taste it reading your post. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

jvdh said...

M(arie) - Kreef essence? Now I'll have to try again. ;-)

A - No comment.

M(arissa) - It's a hassle to obtain in useful quantities, but it is worth it.

2friends said...
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Jeanne said...

Oh my... Now you've brought back memories of visiting friends of my sister's in De Kelders abotu 10 years ago - they had been crayfish diving that day and we had an endless stream of these lovelies being brought to our plates. My sister actually said the words "I don't think I can face any more crayfish". As if!! :o) And re. more photos of crayfish than people - my husband gets that all the time ;-)