Friday 24 September 2010

A Lobster Bisque

Last week we dispatched some lobsters. I'd like to say we did it humanely, but we dropped them straight into that bubbling pan. Sorry.

The meat was delicious. Sweet and tender, dipped into home made mayonnaise I preferred it to the clarified butter. Little legs were sucked of any meat within and we sprayed ourselves with viscera extracting every morsel. Hunks of bread were also slathered with mayonnaise and we pondered over what lucky sods we were.

None of it should go to waste though; any juices lost on pulling out the meat was collected in a baking tray. The leftover shells went into a huge stock pot with the juices and along with carrot, onion, celery, bay and herbs this was simmered for a few hours, to be turned into a light bisque. The resultant soup, finished off with cream had a strong hit of the seaside. Heavy on the lobster flavour, it was the perfect use for what is usually just destined for the bin. Had we had any lobster meat leftover it would have been good to add that too, but really - who has leftover lobster meat?

Lobster Bisque

Serves 4

The shells of 3 lobsters
1 onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
A few peppercorns
2 bay leaves
A handful of parsley
A few sprigs of thyme
Enough water to cover the above
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 potato, diced (optional)
70ml double cream
A good glug of brandy

Get all the aromatics in the pot with the lobster shells and bring to the simmer. Simmer for a good few hours with the lid off, topping up with more water to cover half way through. After about 3 hours, strain it and then reduce by at least half - taste every so often and when it's deep enough in flavour, it's done. If you like a thicker soup, add the potato 30 minutes before you finish and then puree the soup.

Turn it on low, add the tomato puree stirring well, and then add the brandy. Simmer off the alcohol and then add the cream, stirring well. Garnish with a few leaves of parsley (I also added some slivered leeks but that's optional) and serve.


Andrew said...

great blog, so insightful and up to date

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

Looks great! Great use of as you say, what's destined for the bin!

Peter M said...

A fine lobster feast..from Helen's post to yours with the bisque. This is royalty in the realm of soups.

Anonymous said...

This blog and Helen's are two of my all-time favourites. And I love eating lobster. But I have to say that I was really dissapointed to read that the lobsters were just boiled alive. The RSPCA has guidelines for killing crustacea, and I think people ought to take responsibility for the food they enjoy, especially when it is in their reasonable power to do so.

Chris Pople said...

Anonymous: Your concern for mindless sea insects is touching, but you really don't need to worry. A lobster has no brain to speak of and can't really feel "pain" as such. You don't need to feel any more guilty about dropping a live lobster into a pan of boiling water than you would if you swatted dead a house fly. I'm sure you don't consult the RSPCA every time you do that.

Becci said...

Apparently when you boil crustacea suddenly the "shock" makes them lose a lot of the meat. I don't know if that's true, but the fear of loss of meaty goodness (rather than concern for their pain) stops me from dropping them in boiling water.

Yummy, btw.

Hollow Legs said...

Andrew - thanks!

Plum Leaf - it was very satisfying.

Peter M - it was a very good soup indeed.

Anon - I am sorry to hear you're disappointed. However, I don't believe lobsters have advanced enough nervous systems to be in any great deal of pain.

Becci - do you know who says this? I've heard of crabs dropping their claws, but not actually losing meat.

Becci said...

My very good fishmonger tells me so. He says that he always freezes them first as otherwise they can "lose their meat" when dropped into boiling water.

(However, he was actually talking of crabs at the time, so perhaps it's completely different with lobsters? I avoid it just in cases).

Patrick said...

Animal welfare is always a tricky debate to get into. I've met a few people in the past who are outraged at people who eat meat as "it's so cruel" yet are fine eating fish. I'm no expert on how animals are slaughtered but I'm pretty sure a metal hook in a fish's throat isn't any better.

I've cooked lobster once and used the freezer method first. I followed Hugh FW's instructions for cooking it but unfortunately it was a tad overdone. This looks nice though.

catty said...

both the lobster meat and the bisque look SO FRICKING GOOD. At home we always boiled crabs and just ate it dipped in soy sauce :) Very good use of the whole lobster!

Dave said...

I bet it was as good eating as it looks. Great fotos.

Hannah (Hank) Renowden said...

oh my god oh my god this looks freaking gorgeous. My stomach is SHOUTING at me now!