If you ever find yourself stranded in a tropical paradise, despair not but make the best of the situation – treat yourself to a lobster. Lobsters in warm seas (spiny lobsters – langustas or rock lobsters) are smaller (the bad news) and cheaper (the good news) than their cold water counterparts. Unfortunately (more bad news coming up) they have no claws, meaning less tasty flesh to eat. The rest is pretty much similar, the wonderful pink sweet flesh is protected in the exoskeleton of the tail.
As with many delicate seafood, the trick with lobster is timing, and less is more. You can even eat it raw, chilled and nothing will happen. But don’t overcook it, because it will become too tough and lose its puffy cottony texture.
Many lobsters are sold on the fish markets – or straight on the beach – still alive. If possible, get a whole lobster, since the upper body will greatly enhance the taste of the sauce. For this recipe we used “only” the tails since the fishermen who were selling them used the heads to make bisque in their houses on stilts on the amazing Banco Chinchorro. Who could blame them.
For the crunchy part of the dish, we needed something light and subtle tasting, not to overshadow the delicate flavours of lobster and we opted for fried zucchini cubes which turned out to be a bullseye.
This recipe calls for 90 minutes of prep time and some medium cooking skills. Perfect for a dinner for 2 for that special occasion.
- 2 lobster tails (c. 250g per person)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
Put lobster tails in a pot and cover with water. The pot shouldn’t be too big since you will be reducing the stock later and you don’t want it to last for hours. Take the tails out, add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Put the tails back in and boil for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size. Take the tails out and leave to cool down. Use the water to prepare the sauce.
Boiling makes the flesh shrink and detach from the shell easily. All you need to do is break the hard shell now. Place them sideways on a flat surface and apply pressure with your palm (lean on it) until one by one you hear each of the tail segments crack. Open the exoskeleton like a butterfly and carefully take out the tail flesh. Set the flesh aside for 10 minutes before the serving and move on to preparing the sauce.
Once the zucchini and pasta are ready, melt the butter on a skillet and fry lobster tails over medium high heat for 3 minutes on each side to give them a nice flavourful golden crust.
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cl of dry white wine
- ½ onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon of butter (for roux)
- 1 teaspoon of flour (for roux)
Which wine to choose for the lobster sauce? Well, we strongly advise to use the same wine you will be serving with the meal. In case of lobster, this is almost a no brainer since the rich buttery tones of chardonnay perfectly match the similar gentle tastes of lobster. One other common rule many chefs emphasize is, don’t cook with the wine you would not drink. We tend to interpret it quite literally – buy a high quality wine, cook with it and sip while cooking.
So, take the water used for boiling the lobster tails, drop in the tail shells, heads, claws, legs… (basically everything except the tail flesh), white wine and the spices and boil until reduced. The water shouldn’t be too salty before, since by reducing it the concentration of salt will increase. While boiling, crush all the parts of the lobster so the juices get out. Once done, carefully strain the stock and add bits and pieces of lobster flesh that was left in the shell.
Depending on the amount of water you boiled the tails in, the reduction should take anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours, or half a bottle and full bottle of chardonnay in layman terms. Try to get around 1.5 cl of reduced sauce. Once done, make a light roux with butter and flour in a skillet you were frying the tails in, stir in the sauce and keep warm until serving.
- 1 zucchini
Dice one zucchini into 1cm size cubes. Coat with flour and fry in hot oil. Keep in mind basic rules of deep-frying – don’t put too much zucchini in at once because the temperature of the oil will drop rapidly and instead of a nice golden crust you will end up with soggy greasy cubes. Take out the golden cubes and absorb the excess oil with a paper towel.
We used the dried tagliatelle in this recipe, but we encourage you to try with your favourite type of fresh pasta. We love tagliatelle since they are fast and easy to make. Regarding making your own pasta, we keep going back to this Pasta 101 article. It gives a great overview of the principles behind making great pasta and it works like a charm every time.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Make a bed of pasta, pour the sauce over it, sprinkle with fried zucchini cubes and lay the lobster on the top. It takes some skill and focus to have all the ingredients prepared almost at the same time, so go easy on the chardonnay.