Lobsters

A fresh taste of Norfolk’s delicious king of seafood

If you enjoy lobster you’re in luck, because it’s lobster season – and the north Norfolk coast is the perfect place to catch these delicious fresh lobster. KL magazine talks to Richard and Alison Matthews to learn more

We all know that here in Norfolk we’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy freshly-caught lobster. Certainly most of us will be aware that from now until September we’re in the main season for UK lobsters – which makes it the ideal time to be thinking about enjoying this delicacy. But why is Norfolk such a good location for lobsters – and do you know how to prepare one?

In our quest to find out more about lobsters, we caught up with Richard and Alison Matthews. The husband and wife team own Rocky Bottoms seafood restaurant, which is located in the beautiful coastal village of West Runton, where they deliver local shellfish from pot to plate.

Richard has been a fisherman for over 40 years, and in 2008 Richard and Alison bought an old 18th century brick kiln – and had a vision to transform it into a restaurant to sell Richard’s fresh fish. In May 2015, after much work, the restaurant finally opened its doors.

“Initially we were just going to do lobster rolls and crab sandwiches with a pot of tea,” says Alison. “But it evolved so much from there – and we now do a wide selection of dishes.”

With Richard catching the fish and Alison dressing it, they make the perfect team!

“The fish is caught on our boats, brought straight into the restaurant, prepared, cooked, and put on the plates,” says Alison. “You can’t get much fresher than that!”

KL magazine: How did you come to be a fisherman?
Richard Matthews: I had a friend who was a fisherman, and I used to help him every now and again. I was actually a welder by trade, and I thought being a fisherman would be a better life. I got together with one of my best friends and we bought a boat, made some pots and got started. I was about 20 at the time.

KL magazine: What do you enjoy about your job – and is there anything you don’t enjoy
Richard Matthews: I love the fact you never know what to expect and every day is different. You can’t beat working outside – although no one enjoys it when it’s pouring down with rain and the wind is blowing. That’s all part and parcel of being a fisherman, however, and I wouldn’t do anything else.

KL magazine: Why is the north Norfolk coast such a good location for lobsters?
Richard Matthews: We’ve got a unique chalk reef and it’s never been trawled on, so it’s still very natural – and the water is extremely rich in nutrients, making it a great environment for crabs and lobsters to feed and grow.

KL magazine: What boat do you sail and why is it so good for catching lobsters?
Richard Matthews: I still use a traditional double-ended Norfolk crab boat. It’s very low in the water, which works well for hauling pots. A lot of fisherman are changing over to faster boats but I’m happy with my traditional boat. Actually, I think there’s only two of them left.

KL magazine: What impact does the weather have on your catch?
Richard Matthews: If the weather’s rough, we might not be able to go out to sea for a few days, so bad weather can have a massive impact on the amount of lobsters we catch. But you have to take the rough with the smooth and accept that some days we’ll come back with pots full of lobsters, whilst other days we won’t be able to get any. It’s all part of being a fisherman.

KL magazine: What’s the best way to enjoy lobster?
Richard Matthews: A favourite in our restaurant is lobster grilled underneath with a little garlic butter and eaten with chips or new potatoes and a lovely salad. But really, with lobster, the world is your oyster.

Richard Matthews

Alison’s top tips on how to dress a lobster

  1. Boil in water for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Drain the lobster, cut down the middle, and open it up
  3. Take the little crusty bit away from the head piece and rip the claws off
  4. Take the excrement sac out and turn the tail over – everything left is ready to eat!

DID YOU KNOW?

Once boiled and prepared, the dressed lobster will last for two days if kept refrigerated. It’s fine to freeze lobster as long as it’s fresh when frozen. It will then last up to three months.

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