12 January 2012

Lobster bisque

Lie lobster

In May of 2011, we were trying to decide whether or not to move to New England, leaving San Diego. Do we give up fresh lemons and avocados for lobster and rhubarb? Well, lobster and rhubarb won. So it's strange, then, that we've only had lobster twice since arriving in the Boston-area. How do we solve that? For New Year's, our friends from the great state of Maine brought down three 1½ lb lobsters.

We gave those lobsters the royal treatment, and turned them into my favourite lobster dish - lobster bisque. This recipe is modified from Gourmet.
3 1½ pound live lobsters
2 medium onion
1 celery rib
2 carrot
2 vine-ripened tomato
1½ head garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaf
12 black peppercorns
¾ cup brandy
½ cup dry Sherry
¼ cup Port
6 cups fish stock*
½ cup tomato paste
¾ cup heavy cream
2 ¼ tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
The little ones in the house (Bbq Jr. and his friend), were both intrigued by these crickets-of-the-sea. There was a tiny bit of concern for the lobsters' ultimate ends by Bbq Jr.'s friend, Lego quickly distracted her. Get your biggest pot full of water, and bring the water to a boil. I keep the lobsters on ice or in the fridge during this period. It makes them sleepy and less frisky when you toss them in the pot.

Drop the lobsters into the pot headfirst. Continue boiling them at a screaming boil for 5 minutes. Fish the lobsters out of the pot, and set in a bowl to cool. Save 3 cups of the cooking liquid, and discard the rest.

Cooked lobster

Now crack open the tail and the claws, using nut crackers or kitchen shears. This is messy work.

Dismembering lobster

Remove all the meat you can salvage, in as large pieces as you're capable. Reserve tomalley (the disgusting green paste).

Lobster meat

Chop the meat coarsely, cover and place in the fridge. Meanwhile, get the oil screaming hot in a pot over high heat. Toss in the lobster shells. Stir occasionally, cooking until shells darken slightly, and the smell gets incredible.

Lobster shells

While cooking, coarsely chop the vegetables, and cut the garlic crosswise through the head. Add the vegetables, garlic, brandy, sherry and port to the bisque. Continue stirring while most of the liquid evaporates. Before it all evaporates, add the reserved lobster death juice, the fish stock and the tomalley. Lower temperature. Stir periodically while the mixture simmers for about one hour. Your house will now officially smell amazing.

Lobster shells

Sieve the broth to remove all the chunks. Mix in the tomato paste, and continue to simmer until the broth has reduced to a little over one quart (4½ cups).

Lobster bisque

Add the cornstarch to the 3 tbsp of water to hydrate it. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup, and watch it thicken over a few minutes. Add back the lobster meat, stirring constantly. Now you have to be fast. You want the lobster meat to cook through, but not overcook (this takes not more than a minute or two). Serve immediately, piping hot. Be sure to be ready to catch anyone who swoons.

Lobster bisque



Mike said...

While I might argue about the San Diego vs New England tradeoff, that bisque is unquestionably a thing of beauty.

Indirect Heat said...

Heh. There are days I would argue it the other way as well. This Sunday is going to be rather chilly, and I might prefer to be relaxing at Mission Beach.

My full food assessment of the tradeoff so far - San Diego has vastly better markets and grocers. Boston has vastly better restaurants. And lobster costs about the same as ground beef. I just need to find a way to get fresh lemons, avocados and walnuts in Boston and I'll be good to go.

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