A new cookbook and an updated guide lead through New England’s seafood shacks and markets.

Just in time for summer, two seafood-centric books are out to help guide you through the crowded landscape of lobster shacks and seafood markets in New England.

Both are by Mike Urban, a food and travel writer based in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Mainers may think they know the lobster shacks that dot the Maine coast, but the revised and updated version of “Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints” – previously published in 2012 – will open your eyes to many you may never have stumbled across.

Half of the book is dedicated to Maine lobster shacks from Kittery all the way up to Eastport, where relative newcomer Quoddy Bay Lobster (founded in 2007) makes its own smoked lobster pate.

It’s interesting to read about the history of some of the shacks, and while this isn’t a cookbook, recipes are sprinkled throughout. In the back, an index sorts the shacks into types – most romantic shacks, shacks with dock or deck dining, shacks with great architectural design, and so on.

Urban’s newest project is “The New England Seafood Markets Cookbook: Recipes from the Best Lobster Pounds, Clam Shacks, and Fishmongers.” The book includes about a dozen Maine seafood markets, including the best-known markets in Portland. The markets and their recipes are not sorted by state, so it takes a little hunting to find those from Maine, but that’s OK.

With this book, availability of ingredients is more important than location. Who really cares if that luscious-looking lobster Benedict recipe originates in Rhode Island, as long as Maine lobster can be used in the dish?

The book is divided into many sections that go beyond Soups and Chowders, Lobster, and Cod and Haddock. Some of the more interesting recipes can be found under Seafood Cakes, Grilled Fish, Flounder and Sole, and something called New England Exotica. That last category includes recipes for Easy Baked Maple-Glazed Arctic Char from City Fish Market in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and Corned Hake and Potatoes from Fisherman’s Catch in Damariscotta.

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Half of this book is dedicated to Maine lobster shacks from Kittery all the way up to Eastport. Courtesy photo

You’ll want to keep both of these books handy this summer – one in your car for when you hit the road looking for a lobster dinner, and one in your kitchen.


From “Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints” by Mike Urban

Portland Lobster Company regularly rolls out this tasty dish as a special.

Serves 2-3

1 pound fresh jumbo scallops

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces thick-cut bacon (preferably apple wood-smoked or similar), chopped

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup chopped shallots

3 ounces bourbon

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

Lightly sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on high heat until almost smoking. Add the scallops and bacon to pan and sear scallops quickly, about 30 seconds on each side. Do not lift or move scallops while searing. Remove scallops and set aside.

Add garlic and shallots to the now-empty pan, and sauté until they soften. Add bourbon, and carefully ignite to burn off alcohol. Once the flame subsides, add the brown sugar, heavy cream and 11/2 teaspoons of the fresh parsley. Reduce the sauce until the desired consistency is reached. Pour the sauce over the jumbo scallops and garnish with 1/2 teaspoon remaining parsley.

Clam Shack Seafood Market in Kennebunk keeps presidential swordfish stocked and ready for whenever President George H.W. Bush calls. The market has a decades-long relationship with the Bush family and their Walker’s Point staff, who are loyal customers. This recipe was handed down by longtime Bush family chef Ariel Guzman, who adapted it from a family friend’s recipe. Clam Shack Seafood has adapted it slightly.


From “The New England Seafood Markets Cookbook: Recipes from the best lobster pounds, clam shacks, and fishmongers” by Mike Urban

Serves 4

4 swordfish steaks, 6-8 ounces each


1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried onion

1/2 teaspoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon dried coriander

2 cups mayonnaise

1/3 cup lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together the spices and herbs. In a larger bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add the herbs and spices to the mayonnaise mixture, and stir until smooth.

Place the swordfish steaks in a large, resealable plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, and move around the contents of the bag to make sure the steaks are covered and coated thoroughly. Refrigerate in the bag on a plate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the outdoor grill. Grill the swordfish steaks over high heat for about 2 minutes per side, anticipating flare-ups from the marinade. The steaks will be ivory colored and golden brown around the edges when done.