Lobster à l’Américaine


  • Serves 2 people

Starting with a live lobster is paramount for the success of this dish. It's equally important to kill the lobster humanely according to RSPCA guidelines. I recommend you place it in a container in the freezer for 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to make sure there is no movement in the legs and to ensure the flesh isn't beginning to freeze.

  • 1 800gm-1kg rock lobster
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • ½ small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 large golden shallot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 40 ml Cognac
  • 500 gm ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 150 ml dry vermouth, such as Noilly Prat
  • 120 ml fish stock
  • 2 tbsp veal glaze (veal stock reduced to 20% of its volume)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped French tarragon
  • 80 gm softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped curly parsley
01   Remove lobster from freezer and place it underbelly down on a large chopping board. Pierce the head between the eyes with a large, sharp chef’s knife to ensure it dies instantly.
02   Using a thinner-bladed knife, sever the tail from the body by inserting the blade into the body and work around the top of the shell where the head and body meet, turn over and sever.
03   Hold head with a clean tea towel and twist head and body in opposite directions, detaching body from head.
04   Use the chef’s knife to cut through tail sections, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
05   Use a spoon to scoop coral from the head into a bowl and set aside.
06   Cut claws from body with heavy scissors or poultry shears, then crack each joint with the back of the chef’s knife.
07   Preheat oven to 175C. Season lobster to taste. Heat oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add lobster tail, legs and claws in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until lobster turns red (6-8 minutes), then transfer to a plate.
08   Add onion and carrot to pan, sauté until starting to soften (4-5 minutes), then add shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant (1 minute). Return lobster to pan, add Cognac, ignite with a long match (careful, as flames may be fierce) and shake pan until flames die down.
09   Add tomato and stir occasionally until tender (2-3 minutes), then add vermouth, fish stock, veal glaze and tarragon, cover with a lid and place in oven until cooked through (10-15 minutes).
10   Meanwhile, work reserved coral and butter into a paste (I find it easiest to do this with my hands). Season to taste, pass through a fine sieve to remove any fragments of shell and set aside.
11   Remove lobster from oven, transfer lobster pieces to a plate and cover with foil. Press pan juices through a conical sieve into a clean pan, pressing on solids to extract all liquid, then simmer over medium-high heat to reduce to around ½ cup or 125ml (6-8 minutes).
12   Whisk in coral butter over high heat to thicken sauce, then add parsley, season to taste, return lobster to pan and serve hot with saffron pilaf.
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