Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley.
This week: Lobster Tomalley and Roe available anywhere you're willing to pay "Market Price"
The Ick Factor: The tomalley is pronounced like our own Southwestern masa bombs, tamales, but that's definitely where the similarities end. The tomalley is essentially the liver and pancreas of the lobster. So next time you're shelling out for a classy steamed lobster, crack open the lobster body and the tomalley will be the greenish-grey mass nestled right behind the tail meat. If you're lucky, you might even get some tasty lobster ovaries packed with steamed roe.
(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)
The Offal Choice: We're smack dab in the middle of the desert, so it's unlikely that lobster is a staple on your menu. Lobster is one of those extra special fancy orders without a price on the menu, but the next time you're celebrating, order one steamed at market price.
Tastes Just Like: The greenish tamale has a texture similar to that of a cooked egg yolk, pasty and slightly crumbly if overdone. The flavor is metallic and pungent with a briny bite, but is a bit less intense than land-dwelling creatures' livers. The tomalley is tasty eaten solo, but really good as a quicky pate smeared on some crackers. If you're lucky enough to score a lady lobster, there will be a mass of bright red, meaty roe in the body cavity as well. Unlike raw roe, like tobiko, or cured roe, like caviar, steamed lobster roe is dense and tastes more like red-blooded animal meat than anything fishy.
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In 2008 there was a warning issued by the FDA to avoid eating lobster tomalley due to the scourge of red tide (and the fact that the lobster liver filters these toxins, but other public health organizations have since revised their recommendations to a tomalley every once and a while. We can live with that.
Always been a DIY-er? Having a little DIY lobstah bake is way cheaper than paying someone else to put a lobster in a pot of steaming water for you. Tracking down quality lobsters is also pretty easy, even here in the sandy Sonoran Desert wastes. Any place you can get a superb seafood selection, like most of the mega-mart Asian emporiums will have plenty of lobsters to choose from. Heck, the Fry's down the street from us even has a tank of fresh lobsters. Just look around a bit. If it's your first time with lobster, master Steamed Lobster 101, then you can graduate to the more advanced New England-style Lobster Bake. Don't forget the bibs!