Maybe I have been watching a little too much food tv but what started out as a craving for both polenta and fish tacos, along with the irresistible price (and taste) of lobster, became what I like to call a deconstructed taco, Maine style; with lobster, cornmeal mush, spicy slaw and fresh marinated beets. Give it a try!
Don’t let the word “mush” change your mind. Real Mainers eat cornmeal mush, albeit I had it more often as a breakfast food. My mother had an aversion to any grain cooked porridge style. Since she was born in 1932, depression and rationing were a part of her life. Her father would make a big pot of hot cereal for breakfast and if she and her five siblings did not finish it that morning they would have it the next morning, and all the following mornings, cut and fried with maple syrup, until it was gone. It sounded heavenly to me as I love all cooked grains and therefore I give her a great deal of credit for making me a food that she could not bring near her mouth.
I remember the first time I had polenta and said “Hey, I’ve had this for breakfast” or my first tamale and, again there was that familiar flavor and texture. Traveling in the southeast United States, you will find cornmeal mush too. Since people are proud of their regional cooking heritage, there are a lot of splitting corn silks about what to call their corn grains. Basically whether it is masa, polenta, grits or cornmeal; it boils down to the size of the grind and the color of corn. The only rule of the corn you need to remember is that it is all delicious and don’t let the names scare you away.
The slaw starts with the traditional cabbage and coleslaw dressing. I like the store bought creamy coleslaw dressing in the refrigerated section of the market but it is best used as a base as it is too sweet “as is” paired with lobster. The plain Greek yogurt will cut that sweetness and, If you are not familiar with pick-a-pepper sauce, pick-a-some up because you will put it on everything.
If you buy lobster meat or cook your lobsters ahead of time, try warming it up by adding a tiny bit of cider vinegar to the butter and heat slowly in a saucepan. It’s what real Mainers do and since you are making cornmeal mush, you might as well add cider vinegar to your lobster butter.
Good enough to eat every scrid!