Almost no-garlic garlic butter


It’s lobster season. And although I had no expectation as to kiddo’s open-mindedness, impossible to resist the need to broaden his horizons. So on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we jumped into the car, headed for Homard des Iles in Saint-Eustache, a suburb of Montreal. Yes, you heard right, a direct-sale outlet in the middle of the boondocks instead of the local supermarket, where lobsters are so lively you had better hold for dear life when they suddenly unfurl their tail. Even the lobster tank rippled and waved. The price? At least $2-3 more per pound than cutthroat promotions at the local grocery but our family is slowly transitioning towards local, farm-bought food where cattle practices (on a par with fishing ethics, one hopes) are more humane, healthier too. You do know that Epicurus, yeah that one, believed some pleasures can be detrimental to human beings, right?



We cook with garlic a lot but I try to avoid irradiated garlic from China as much as possible. So every fall, I buy a garlic braid with the hope some will remain by lobster season. (Usually not.)


Junior turned fearful and begged me to stop handling the lobsters as they did the twist-and-turn before settling into their new home: a damp dishcloth-lined colander. When the shellfish took their fatal dive into the drink, he opened his eyes wide, stunned to see them turn into orange stillness. Yes, I do dislike that moment but it’s my way to fight the political-correctness-cum-hypocrisy of pretending we don’t know where and what our food comes from.

Of course, the kiddo did not eat. Oh he was curious enough — here’s praying it signals the beginning of the beginning of the end of his picky phase —, so he ate a bite out of curiosity. But although he said it was good, he chose to pass.



The secret to this recipe? The hit of green provided by salted herbs, the mellow acidity of white balsamic vinegar (lemon juice would work fine) and the garlic which is left in halves, then “poached” a few minutes in the butter. The subtlety lets the lobster shine.


I assume you don’t need me to teach you how to boil lobsters, though if you need a primer, do ask in the Commentary below. I have chosen instead to reveal the secret of my almost no-garlic garlic butter that is the bomb with any shellfish. The sourness of vinegar wakes up the butter while the sweetness of anything balsamic echoes the mildness of the shelfish. Feel free to dive in head first. Not as sweet as its darker counterpart, white balsamic is made with white wine vinegar and the must of white grapes. It is not caramelized unlike regular balsamic vinegar. When buying balsamic, you will find drastically different prices. That’s because genuine balsamic vinegar is aged in several wood barrels over a time period stretching 25 years or more. Foregoing this artisan process, caramel flavour and colour are added to the cheaper, industrial versions.



Served with a salad of Québec asparagus and tender pea shoots (and baguette for dipping in the butter), it was a plateful of spring flavours.



  • 1. In a small pan, over very low heat, put butter to melt. (I use the warmer on my stove.)
  • 2. Add remaining ingredients. If your stove comes with a warming section, leave the pan to simmer and flavours to blend. If not, heat butter 1-2 minutes over the lowest setting, then close the heat under the pan and let the garlic infuse gently.
  • 3. Pour garlic butter in a small service bowl, with or without the garlic halves.