For the Shell of It: Lobster and Mussels From P.E.I.


Photo: Fulya Lisa Neubert/EyeEm/Getty Images

Lobsters and oysters and mussels, oh, my! Shucking off big city convention, Dick Snyder went to the sea and found the source on P.E.I. Luckily for us, he came back with a few secret recipes courtesy of P.E.I.’s Table Culinary Studio. Try them at home and be inspired to take a trip to the island as soon as you can.


Photo: Courtesy Dick Snyder



Serves 4 as main course

1 leek (white part only), julienned

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 shallots, in 1/8-inch dice 

400 g arborio or carnaroli risotto rice 

1 cup white wine, preferably dry

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 l Lobster Stock (recipe below) 

2 lobsters (tail and claw meat) 

¼ cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

20 chives, minced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Kosher salt or fine sea salt

Ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Pea shoots, sunflower sprouts or microgreens of your choice

Gently heat olive oil and butter in a heavy-based pan. Once hot, add the shallots and sweat until translucent. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels start to crackle, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in wine and cayenne: simmer, stirring often, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour a ladleful of the simmering Lobster Stock over the rice. Let simmer, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding stock, stirring occasionally and letting it absorb until the rice is al dente, 20 to 30 minutes. Note: You may not use all of the stock.

While rice is cooking, cut lobster tail meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside with whole claw meat pieces in fridge.

When rice is done, remove pot from heat and stir in the reserved lobster tail meat, Parmesan, chives, half the lemon zest and 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice to taste. Lay claw meat pieces on top of finished risotto and cover until service.

Just before serving, loosen the risotto to the desired consistency with a little more broth and serve immediately. Drizzle each serving with olive oil; sprinkle with lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Toss pea shoots (or other greens) with remaining lemon juice, a bit of kosher salt and a grate of pepper. Surround portion of risotto with greens.

Lobster Stock

2 tbsp olive oil 

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 carrots, chopped 

3 celery stalks , chopped

1 leek (green tops only), chopped 

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp tomato paste 

2 lobsters worth of shells (bodies, legs, claw shells and/or tail shells) 

2 oz brandy 

2 fresh thyme stems 

3 fresh tarragon stems 

In heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil and sweat onion, carrots, celery, leek and garlic until translucent and starting to get soft. Stir in tomato paste, thoroughly coating vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. 

Ensure that lobster body shells contain no debris. Crush shells with knife handle or meat mallet and add to pot. Cook until golden-brown. 

Drizzle brandy over shells. Flambé, then use residual moisture to deglaze pot. Add thyme and enough cold water to generously cover shells. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat, add tarragon and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, let stand for 2 minutes, then drain through a fine chinois or sieve. Measure out a little more than 1 litre (2-1/3 pints) of stock into a clean pot, place over low heat and bring to a very light simmer.



Serves 2 as appetizer

1 bulb fennel with fronds 

1 tbsp fennel seed, divided 

Quick Pickling Liquid (recipe below)

1-1.5 lb fresh mussels

2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil 

2 ounces pancetta, diced

1 large shallot, in 1/8-inch dice

2 cloves garlic, in 1/8-inch dice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup white wine, preferably dry 

1 lime 

2 tbsp butter, unsalted 

Trim and shave (with mandoline) or thinly slice fennel bulb. Finely chop fennel fronds. Set aside. 

Put 1/2 cup of the shaved fennel, a bit of the chopped fronds and half the fennel seed in a jar or bowl, pour hot Quick Pickling Liquid over and cover until ready to serve. 

Rinse mussels under fresh running water. Throw away any that do not close or have broken shells. Remove any mussel beards. Set aside. 

In a 12-inch skillet, warm oil, pancetta and remaining fennel seed over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add remaining sliced fennel, shallots and garlic. Season with salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. 

Add the cleaned mussels; salt and pepper generously. Toss to coat with the fennel and aromatics mixture; heat for about 1 minute. Pour in wine, cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until mussels start to open, about 3 minutes. Try not to peek! 

Slice lime in half, grill with tongs over open flame or face down in hot non-stick pan until caramelized. Set aside.

Uncover pan, dot with butter and continue to cook until all mussels are open, tossing to combine. 

Divide cooked mussels between two bowls. Pour hot liquor over mussels, garnish with remaining fennel fronds and grilled lime.

Quick Pickling Liquid 

1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or white vinegar) 

1/2 cup water 

1-1/2 tsp pickling or kosher salt 

1 tsp white sugar 

In a small pot over high heat, combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.

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