POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 8, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 1:57 p.m. HST, Jan 15, 2014
Kathy Laoron emailed me early last year with a list of recipe requests from restaurants long gone. I told her not to get her hopes up, and she said, "If I get just one recipe, then it's as if I won the lottery."
Well, Kathy, today is your lucky day.
On her list was the stuffed lobster served at the old Pearl City Tavern, a dining institution from the 1930s until it closed in 1993. The tavern was famous for its monkey bar (with live monkeys).
Laoron's request was printed here last week, in my annual New Year's call-out for recipes that have evaded my search efforts.
To the rescue: Gayle Fujioka and Annie Deweese, who found it in their copies of "Dining In -- Hawaii," by Maxine Saltonstall (1981). The book was part of a series published by Peanut Butter Pub called "Dining In -- the Great Cities," that covered such food-centric locales as Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan, as well as a few I'd never thought of as dining capitals -- Milwaukee and Cleveland, for example.
The Hawaii book is available through second-hand sources online. I'm getting one; it's going to make my life easier. Deweese says it includes recipes from such Honolulu restaurants as Bagwell's, L'Auberge, Nick's Fishmarket and the Third Floor.
Fujioka says she bought the cookbook specifically for this recipe yet has never made it. "I loved this dish, and would eat it every time our family went to Pearl City Tavern."
Back to the lobster: The recipe calls for Maine lobsters, which are boiled, then split and stuffed with a mixture of scallops, crab and shrimp, then topped with cracker meal and baked. It's quite a project and could get expensive. But, hey, Laoron just won the lottery. She can afford it.
PEARL CITY TAVERN STUFFED MAINE LOBSTER
6 Maine lobsters (1-1/4 pounds each)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup cubed scallops
1 cup diced shrimp (bay shrimp if possible)
1/2 cup crab meat
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
1/4 cup sherry
1-1/4 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cracker meal or crushed crackers
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Immerse lobsters in boiling water 5 to 7 minutes, then let cool in same water.
Heat butter in skillet. Saute celery, onion, scallops, shrimp and crab. Season with salt and pepper.
Add MSG if using and sherry. Drain well.
Place lobsters belly side up on cutting board. Cut lengthwise down middle with sharp knife and open flat, leaving meat intact.
Add mayonnaise to stuffing mixture and stir gently until well mixed. Mound filling over each lobster half. Sprinkle with cracker meal. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information:(not including salt to taste or MSG): 480 calories, 26 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 1,500 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 38 g protein
As I was typing the last period in this piece, two envelopes showed up in the mail, from Ethel Yamamoto and Nancy Shoda, who sent along copies of an old Star-Bulletin column called "Cooking with the Pros" that included a Pearl City Tavern lobster recipe that's slightly different.
It calls for twice as much celery, crab meat and mayonnaise in the stuffing, but the main difference is in the technique: Boil lobsters 7 minutes, then cut into them lengthwise, just deep enough so you can spread the halves apart. Butter the meat and bake 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Pile filling over lobster, top with cracker meal and bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes.
"I had to keep this recipe because it was so good," Yamamoto wrote.
COMING UP: MORE MYSTERIES SOLVED
Thanks to the recipe posse -- whose powers of recall and ability to quickly lay hands on recipes collected decades ago never cease to amaze -- I will be testing recipes for former Mayor Frank Fasi's favorite spaghetti sauce, Canlis Rice and Viennese Oatmeal Cookies. Look for them in this space soon.
If you have these recipes, all mentioned in last week's call for help, thank you, but no need to send them on.
Anyone who sends in a recipe printed in this column receives a cookbook.
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to email@example.com.