“ Brand: Lidl / Type: Frozen Food „
Had a superb Sea Food Birthday Fest this week - Lidl Lobster (£5.99 ) thermidor followed by Lidl Crabbie (£2.99) so £9 a pop. Very tasty, washed down with a good dry Cava (£4.99).
But I am intrigued - how PRECISELY do they get those lobsters into their lolly bags? Lobster legs tend to fall off at the least provocation and these darlings are perfect. Are they bagged alive, nuked and then frozen?
Sorry, poor little Lidl Lobsters - your sacrifice was not unappreciated. But I worry.
Kind regards Denise
PS It was Goody Cao week this time (4) for the kids, other weeks it is Formil (6) or Muesli (6). Bought several Radio controlled barometer stations (froggy is never wrong). Sandwiches are brilliant and only £1.39. This week bought 10 Hazelnut chocolate bars @ 19 pence each - had them before so can vouch for quality - the woman in front bought 40! Keep it coming! Happy Christmas
Lidl Frozen Lobster is sold in units of single, whole cooked lobsters, each normally retailing at the comparatively knock-down price of £5. This year however, the price was reduced even further so you could buy a (presumably wild) lobster, that had been caught in Canada, cooked, frozen and packed up, then shipped over here for just £4. I know we're all supposed to be worrying about food miles and the sustainability of marine fisheries - but on the other hand, isn't that a deal that's almost becoming too good to miss? As to the marine conservation aspect, I see from the internet that lobster exports from the part of Canada where these Lidl lobsters come from form a mainstay of that region's economy, and so they don't appear to be in short supply, or at least, not as yet.
The Lidl lobsters come frozen in a brick-like block of ice and wrapped in a strong polythene cover. The suggested defrosting time in six hours in a refrigerator - though ours were still partially locked in ice after spending the night in the fridge. Instructions for 'fast thawing' the lobsters are also given on the packaging and these work well - you remove them from the polythene, run them under a cold tap to melt the ice then put the lobster in a bowl of salted warm water to finish defrosting.
The polythene invariably leaks in the fridge as the lobsters begin to (partially) defrost, and as they are a tricky size and shape to contain in any type of waterproof vessel that would conveniently fit on a refrigerator shelf this is kind of a pain. The ice is made from a strong brine, so it's opaque when lobster is frozen in the shop, and apart from glimpses of red claw-tip and lobster tail at the far ends of the bag, it's impossible before defrosting it to see what the lobster you're buying looks like. Having bought a few of these from Lidl, I can say that they all seem to be much the same in terms of size (surprisingly uniform, in fact) so I don't suppose this would become a problem unless you particularly wanted to buy a lobster of a particular sex (I believe the males have more claw meat, but the females may have delicious lobster roe inside); but for that to happen you would also need to be able to differentiate lobsters by sex by sight, because though Lidl is known for many things, its shop-floor customer service is not one of them as it is a discount grocery shop, after all - and few of its staff seem specially trained in shellfish fishmongery.
There aren't instructions on extracting the lobster meat from the lobster given on the packet but for the main parts of the animal, it's pretty obvious what to do. What I did worry slightly about given the lack of instructions were the inedible portions of the beast, especially the 'dead mens fingers' - the spongy, feather-shaped gills of the animal, which are attached at each of the leg bases. In other edible crustaceans - such as brown crabs - the gills are reputedly poisonous (to the extent that if you buy a shelled crab from e.g. Sainsbury's, you'll usually find the gills will already have been taken off) and certainly not good to eat. Similarly, there were parts of the head-meat that I was dubious about - I located and removed what I think was the lobster 'stomach' - an organ that again in crabs, you're advised not to eat.
If we all lived in a world run by TV chefs - I'm thinking of e.g. Rick Stein - well, we wouldn't "all" be living anywhere in the first place, since he seems pretty clear on the point that in his ideal world, there wouldn't be nearly as many of us - but putting that aside, rather than buying cheap frozen lobster from Lidl people would get their lobsters from that darling little independent fishery on the quayside in Anstruther in Scotland, and dine there on fresh-caught lobster straight from the sea cooked by the fisherman's wife. Now I used to live near Anstruther, and that'll cost you approaching £50 a pop, bearing in mind the fisherman only works certain days of the week, and not in summer (the time of year when most people who don't live locally visit the area on their holidays) , you have to book about six months ahead if you want to buy a lobster from him and get his wife to cook it AND there's no guarantee he'll even catch one on the day you booked ahead in any case. A great eating experience if it goes ahead perhaps, but all that hassle and fuss and expense weighed against trying one of the blighters to see if you like lobster in the first place, for a fiver, from Lidl.
Granted, the Lidl lobster meat was pretty salty, probably due to the strength of the brine it had been frozen in, and the body meat especially was a little on the chewy side. But it was all certainly tasty, and excellent for cooking with. We made lobster thermidor, and to be frank, once stewed for half an hour in a white wine and cream sauce, then smothered in mustard and lemon juice, coated with cheese and browned under the grill it really didn't matter how chewy, or salty, the frozen lobster meat that went into the dish was. (It seems pretty clear to me that the whole point of making lobster thermidor is to disguise the fact that it's got lobster in it from the Yanks). So you wouldn't want to be treating meat from a nice, fresh lobster in that appalling culinary manner anyway, would you?