Region: Italy, Lazio
Category: Pasta with Shellfish
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty
Lobster was an available shellfish for Italian fishermen of the Middle Ages. The Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi, writing before 1570, suggests a simple boiled lobster. Another of his recipes is more involved. The boiled lobster meat is removed and pounded in a mortar into a forcemeat made of cheese, eggs, and herbs that is restuffed into the shell and fried in oil or butter.
This recipe from Gaeta was given to me by Sal and Frances Fantasia, who are both from this coastal town south of Rome famous for its olives. They serve this ziti with lobster sauce as a primo piatto followed by rombo fritti, fried turbot, as their secondo.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 1:15 hours
1. In a deep stove-top casserole, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, then cook the onion, garlic, and parsley until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomatoes and simmer until some liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the lobster. Holding the live lobster by the tail, dig the blade of a heavy, strong knife or cleaver into the crack between the two shell plates of the lobster one-inch or so behind the head. This will kill the lobster immediately. Dig in deep with the knife. With your fingers lift up and pull out the inedible portion under the head. The lobster may continue to move, but it’s dead. Break the tail off and chop it into pieces with the shell with a cleaver. Crack the claws. Pull all the legs out.
3. Add all the lobster pieces, including the body, to the tomato sauce and simmer for 30 minutes. Add up to 1 cup water if the sauce gets too thick.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt abundantly, and add the pasta. Drain the pasta when al dente and transfer to a serving platter or bowl. Pour the lobster sauce over. You eat the lobster pieces with your hands.