I made a day trip down to the Keys this Saturday to enjoy the weather and trek around the Marathon area (before it turned into the two-day shit storm we've been experiencing). When I was down there, I made a stop at one of my favorite places in Marathon: Keys Fisheries. In addition to selling spiny lobsters, whole fish, and plenty of other sea critters, the tiny market with attached casual restaurant serves simply-prepared seafood hauled right from the waters nearby. My fiancee and I ate a fantastic lunch there that included a fresh, Cajun-fried hog snapper sandwich; some chunky conch salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion; and one of the place's famous lobster Reubens made on thick slices of rye. It doesn't get any more Florida than that.
Whenever I visit Keys Fisheries I also bring along a cooler with some
ice and purchase a few spiny lobsters to take home. So that Saturday
night, some friends and I had an extravagant meal of lobster tails
grilled with garlic and olive oil, some fresh ceviche I made from a
whole yellowtail snapper, and homemade coconut rice with black beans.
It was a fantastic meal -- the lobster meat, sweet and clean, was as
fresh as spiny lobster gets. It makes me glad to live in Florida, where
I can get the critters right off the docks before they're frozen and
shipped all over the country. With the carapaces I made some rich
lobster stock that I hope to use to make bisque or chowder later down
the road. And I had a whole tail's worth of lobster meat left over for
the next day.
I decided to make use of it by making something spicy, cheesy, and
savory; something that played off the lobster Reuben I'd had the day before. Like a sandwich, but not. Then I had it: a lobster quesadilla.
I'd never made one before, but I had some
great ingredients lying around the house to give it a try.
I started by removing the tail meat from the shell and chopping it up
into half-inch chunks -- half-inch because I wanted to spread the meat
around evenly, but I also wanted to be able to taste the lobster in
each bite. Since the lobster was already grilled with garlic and olive
oil, I thought I'd use the same two ingredients as a base. I heated a
non-stick skillet over medium heat and added some left over garlic oil
to it. I let that render for about 10 seconds, then tossed in the
lobster meat to saute.
I had also decided to add a little heat. So I tossed in a teaspoon of
minced Scotch bonnet pepper that I had left over from the ceviche the
day before, and let the flavors soak in to the meat along with the
garlic and oil. To add a pungent, earthy component to that sweet island
heat, I sprinkled on some ancho and arbol chili powder. Finally, I
finished the mixture with a squirt of fresh lime juice to give it some
I removed the lobster mixture and spread it evenly on a large flour
tortilla. Then I shredded some fresh cheese over the top. I used a
combination of a half-cup of store-bought cheddar with about a quarter
of a cup of Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda
I'd purchased the week before. I figured the regular cheddar would
mellow out the really strong, sweet gouda nicely. To finish off the
quesadilla, I spread a few tablespoons of sour cream along the top
tortilla and closed it up.
I popped the quesadilla in the saute pan along with a little bit of
olive oil to coat. A couple of minutes on each side and it was crispy,
hot, and melted. I couldn't wait to try it.
Oh. My. God. The quesadilla was dreamy -- full of delicate lobster
meat, with the strong but not overpowering flavor of the gouda. Behind
that was some slow blooming heat thanks to the pepper. The cooling tang
of sour cream finished it off nicely along with a salad of avocado,
tomato, mango, and hearts of palm I had made the day before.
In short, if you've got some lobster sitting around looking for a way
to be eaten, give this quesadilla a go.