Caribbean Style Curried Lobster with Breadfruit Salad and Guava Chutney

We're off on another vicarious adventure at Cook the Books Club, this time in the Caribbean with voyager and writer, Ann Vanderhoof, author of An Embarrassment of Mangoes, (Doubleday Canada, 2003), which means a whole lot of them. Adventures as well as fruit. What an inspiring, envy provoking, and darn good read!

She and her husband had a dream - to cast off for a year or two from jobs, cold weather, the stress of city living, and sail South to the islands of the Caribbean. They saved their money over a period of several years, acquired a near perfect yacht and made the plunge. This book is Vanderhoof's log of events, characters met and wonderful meals - which she kindly shares with her readers.

I did go through a phase, with Bob, wherein we saw ourselves sailing off into the sunset, living on our own little home away from home at sea. We purchased a small boat (23 ft.) to learn sailing. Round and about in Kaneohe Bay was fun for awhile. Then, life interfered with our tentative plans. Like a newborn daughter, below decks in the cabin, squalling her sweet head off; Bob's ever present fear we were about to rack up the investment onto a nearby coral reef; and of course, the not so small matter of money. Truthfully,  I did wonder about encountering pirates and whales (too close). Possibly just not determined or brave enough.  Anyway, that's what arm chairs are for, right?

One of the nice things about our blogger club is that you usually get an excellent read as well as some wonderful recipes, and this selection is no exception. I wanted to cook up everything Ann mentioned eating. However, given the opportunity to eat lobster, guess what?? Yes, I'll take lobster. And curried, oh boy! I really had to try Dingi's recipe, which Ann gives us on page127. When I've eaten lobster in the past it has always been with butter and lemon. Standard fare. Time to rock the boat.

This guy is saying, "Please do something special with me."

Luckily, my brother-in-law's brother is a fisherman.  I mentioned wanting to cook some lobster, and a few days later he had a nice one for us. Then, with a freshly picked green breadfruit, I made up a Potato Breadfruit Salad, which along with rice for the curry to nestle up next to, and a bit of Guava Chutney, our meal was set. True island style ingredients, with a tang of the Caribbean.

Dingi's Curried Lobster
adapted from the recipe in An Embarrassment of Mangoes

1 large lobster (about 2 lbs)
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon seeded, finely minced hot pepper (or a good dash of hot pepper flakes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime (or 2 teaspoons vinegar if you don't have the lime)
1 teaspoon curry powder (approx.) - I used green Thai curry paste
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons coconut cream or more - to taste- (the lovely thick stuff)

Pop your lobster into a large pot of boiling salted water. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes for the first pound, then 3 minutes more for the next. When cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat and set aside. Reserve the shell, legs, etc. (except for the intestinal vein, spongy lungs, and the lady or sandbag) for making a stock. I made a nice one, strained and reduced, it is now awaiting further developments in my freezer.

Toss the remaining ingredients, excepting the oil and coconut cream, with the lobster meat. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more curry paste or powder if desired. Ann says there should be just a hint of curry flavor. Refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to blend.

When almost ready to serve, heat the oil in a heavy pan or wok until very hot. Stir fry the lobster mixture for a minute or two. Add about 1/2 cup water and the coconut cream to create a bit of sauce, and allow to cook for a few minutes longer. When I tasted mine, I felt the Thai Curry paste was maybe a little too prominent and that coconut cream would mellow things out. Which it did, very nicely too. Fresh and intensely flavored, almost salsa like, we liked it very much. In fact, planning for more as soon as possible. It was perfectly accompanied by my favorite blend of brown, wild and white bismati rice, along with some Island Breadfruit Salad, and Guava Chutney.

Island Breadfruit Salad

1/2 green breadfruit, cooked til soft, peeled and cut into about 3/4 inch cubes
1 cup mayonnaise or 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 green onions, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
2 hard cooked eggs, sliced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1/4 cup red bell, roasted and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix up the wet ingredients in a bowl til smooth and set aside. Chop and mince the vegetables and toss into a large salad bowl. Combine with the mayo mixture and the eggs. Stir until everything is well coated and taste for additional seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Too ripe for salad, but great for other uses
Just as a note on really ripe breadfruit -i.e. when they're getting nice and brown and crusty.  They are not smelly in a nasty sense.  Just like a ripe breadfruit, which in Hawaii and the South Pacific especially, is appreciated for another take on that fruit.  Comparable to very ripe bananas.  A wonderful pudding dessert is made from them, with coconut cream and honey, called Papaiee.  Also they can be used at this stage as you would bananas.  I have made delicious muffins and waffles with ripe breadfruit.

Guava Chutney added a nice fruity flavor contrast to the meal and is a condiment I usually have on hand, prepared when they are in season. The wine was a Starfruit Lemon Mead, which went well with our Caribbean themed meal too.

I was happy to hear that Ann and her husband are once more sailing among the islands, and am looking forward to reading her next book, The Spice Necklace, just out in paperback.  Perhaps, on a future longer voyage, through the Panama Canal, and across the Pacific, they will have a Hawaiian  adventure.

Sharing this post with the folks at Hearth 'n Soul Blog Hop, a fabulous recipe exchange, so check what's cooking over there.


Rachel said...

Indeed, great minds think alike! Wasn't that curried lobster delicious! I think zucchini and coconut milk make excellent additions. And someday I shall have to try a breadfruit. Maybe I'll spot one in the ethnic markets of our nearest big city, Albany.

Deb in Hawaii said...

What a fabulous meal Claudia--perfect island fare! The curried lobster really stood out to me too and I need to cook more with breadfruit--the salad sounds wonderful.

I am glad you enjoyed the book!


Swathi said...

Breadfruit salad guava chutney looks awesome. I love the way you made breadfruit salad, we make curries with them.

Joanne said...

I TOTALLY forgot about cook the books this month! I wonder if my local bookstore carries it so that I can get in on the tropical fun! Everything here looks delicious...so many tropical fruits...I'd be in heaven eating it.

ann@Apples and Twinkies said...

What a beautiful setting and a beautiful meal. The book sounds great too.

The Wise Alternative 918-836-0565 said...

I love any type of island fare...Sigh! This makes me think of a sunset dinner on Kauai...

Fantastic post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop.

Simona said...

As I just said to Rachel, you are courageous. Lobsters are outside my range. What a great feast you prepared! Also, thanks for the info about breadfruit. I am pretty sire I ate them in Dominica, but I don't remember what they looked like (the food was not really a high point of that trip).

Alicia Foodycat said...

An amazing meal! Lucky you to get such a beautiful lobster for your dish.

Eliotseats said...

This all looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Oh YUM! Everything looks simply fabulous! Breadfruit is likely something I'll never see...unless I travel! And you have me so intrigued! Great job!