After being back home in the Bahamas for several months, one thing really resonated: what you can buy on Green Turtle Cay is pretty limited (and expensive) so it’s absolutely essential to know what ingredients will be available
When I was asked to contribute recipes for upcoming issues of my local magazine, Abaco Life, I was specifically asked to find some of the best, local lobster recipes.
When sourcing these recipes, it was important to recognize the clear line between what is traditionally the Bahamian, and more specifically the Abaconian (local), preference to cooking crawfish compared to what is preferred by tourists and readers. Minced Lobster is a recipe that comes from the Green Turtle Club, a local hotel.
My parents were both managers at the Green Turtle Club when I was growing up so I spent a lot of time there and when I told my mum that I had chosen Minced Lobster as the Bahamian recipe I wanted to master, she told me that she always found it funny that while the tourists were ordering and enjoying the more traditional, buttered lobster tails, the kitchen staff would be preparing themselves a seafood rendition of ‘Fire Engine’ – using minced lobster. By mincing the lobster meat and cooking it down with tomatoes and the Bahamian ‘trilogy’ of pepper, onion and celery, this Minced Lobster recipe is one of the best and easiest ways to spice things up if you’re wanting to try something different and to eat like a true Bahamian at home, wherever that may be!
Thanks to Chef Karen Curry at the Green Turtle Club for sharing all of her tips with me.
- 2 medium lobster tails (removed from their shells and diced)
- 1 yellow onion (diced)
- 1 green bell pepper (diced)
- 1 stalk of celery (diced)
- 1 large ripe tomato (diced) / 2 tablespoons of canned diced tomato
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of old sour or juice of ½ a lime and ½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes (extra lime can be used on the side)
Here’s my older brother, David, kindly mincing the lobster meat for me in exchange for the recipe
Using a sharp, large knife, place it directly on the centre of the first tail. Using a mallet, tap sternly to split the shell straight through the middle with your other hand. Remove the meat and dice. Repeat with remaining tails.
Chop and dice one onion, one green pepper, one stalk of celery and one large ripened tomato (or two tablespoons of canned, diced tomatoes).
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and sauté the diced vegetables starting with your peppers, then your onion and celery on a medium heat. Add the tomato once the rest has started to soften. Continue to sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the tomato also softens.
Add the lobster, two tablespoons of tomato paste, some fresh thyme (a Bahamian must!) and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. To really add some kick, try adding a small splash of ‘old sour’ or the juice of a lime and some red pepper flakes to taste.
Karen, and the rest of the staff at the Green Turtle Club, were quick to correct me when I asked if grits (or polenta) would be the best side dish to serve with the minced lobster. They said that a fresh pot of white rice and coleslaw was much more Bahamian. However, the benefit of this saucy dish is that it works with most side dishes, although I did find that opting with white rice and some of the fresh pumpkin from the local grocery store was a clean and refreshing accompaniment.
*Please note that lobster/ crawfish season is closed in the Bahamas until August 1st. Please respect the laws in place and allow repopulation.
**If you live in the UK or in a place where lobster isn’t readily available (without costing far too much), make sure you try this recipe by replacing the lobster meat with crayfish but opting for a shorter cooking time.