Due to its strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a long history of being occupied by foreign forces. In the 14th century, Catalan invaders took over Alghero, and their influence is still apparent today in the architecture, food and even the dialect spoken there.
This dish is from the city of Alghero on Sardinia’s North Western coast, where the best rock lobsters (also called ‘spiny lobsters’) are found.
- 2 live rock lobsters, about 600-800 g (see Note)
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 150 ml red wine vinegar
- 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced, strained
- salt flakes, to taste
- 10 truss cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tbsp torn flat-leaf parsley leaves
- crackers, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time: 1 hour
Resting time: 45 minutes
- Place each rock lobster in a plastic bag with a few air holes in it and place in the freezer for 1 hour (see Note).
- Meanwhile, fill the largest saucepan you have with water and bring to a boil.
- Remove 1 rock lobster from the plastic bag, immerse in the rapidly boiling water and cover so that it returns to the boil as quickly as possible. Cook for 7-8 minutes depending on size. Lift out of the water with a large, slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Repeat with the remaining rock lobster.
- Combine the onion and vinegar in a small bowl and stand for about 15 minutes, then drain well.
- Meanwhile, place the lobsters on a chopping board with the tail extended. Insert the point of a large heavy knife where the head and tail meat and split the head in half. Turn the lobster around and split the tail in half. Wash the head area under gently running water, being careful not to wet the meat. Devein, remove the meat from the shell and cut into 2-cm chunks. Pat the shell dry.
- Whisk the oil, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt together to form a dressing.
- When ready to serve, combine the rock lobster meat, tomatoes, onion, parsley and enough dressing to just coat in a bowl. Arrange the meat in the shells and serve with crackers and lobster picks so diners can extract the sweet meat from the legs.
• The easiest and most humane way to kill any crustacean is to chill them in the freezer for about 1 hour or until they become insensible (but not long enough to freeze them). Once chilled, they should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into plenty of rapidly boiling water.
Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.
Photography by Danielle Abou Karam.