All the recipes I could find for lobster risotto did not use the lobster shells to make lobster stock to use for the risotto. They were simply a plain risotto with a lobster served on top. And so I decided to create my own recipe for lobster risotto and it turned out spectacular! I decided to cook the lobster tail sous-vide because that will keep it amazingly tender, but if you don’t have sous-vide equipment you can simply boil the lobster tail as usual and still obtain a wonderful dish. Because live lobsters are not a cheap ingredient this is something for a special occasion or a dinner party where you are looking to impress your guests. This risotto is served with the lobster tail on top, delicious lobster meat mixed in with the rice that has a wonderful lobster flavor from the stock, as well as peas, tomato, and yellow bell pepper for lovely colors. This dish has a nice contrast between the creamy rice and crunchy vegetables.
If you’ve never made risotto before, I would recommend to practice a few times with cheaper ingredients first such as this Carrot Risotto. There are two key success factors to risotto: the quality of the stock and the cooking method. The only way to obtain real risotto texture is to keep stirring and adding stock little by little until the rice is cooked to perfection, about 18 minutes. It does require 18 minutes of your devoted attention, but it will result in grains of rice that are creamy yet al dente. Of course you have to use real risotto rice such as arborio to obtain such a result.
For 4 servings as an appetizer or 2 servings as a generous main course
2 live lobsters of about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) each
200 grams (1 cup) risotto rice
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
150 grams (1 cup) frozen peas (take them out of the freezer when you start with the preparation so they can thaw a little)
1 yellow bell pepper
3 vine tomatoes
salt and freshly ground white pepper
5 Tbsp butter
Kill the lobsters by thrusting a knife through their brains (click here to read more about how to this). Separate the lobster into tails, claws, legs, and bodies.
Insert a wooden skewer into each lobster tail to prevent it from curling when cooked.
If using sous-vide, vacuum seal the tails and refrigerate until later. The lobsters can have very sharp points that will pierce the bag. It helps to stack the lobster tails on top of each other head-to-tail as shown in the photo. You can also remove the sharp edges with a knife or scissors.
Bring about 2 liters (2 quarts) of water to a boil. Add the lobster pieces and cook for 8 minutes.
After 8 minutes, remove the claws and legs from the pot and plunge them in cold water to stop the cooking.
Remove the meat from the lobster claws and legs. Chop the lobster meat and put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until later. Return all of the shells to the pot with the lobster bodies for making the stock.
Keep simmering the lobster shells, uncovered, until you have about 850 ml (3 1/2 cups) of lobster stock left, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Cut the tomatoes in halves crosswise and remove the seeds with your fingers. You could peel the tomatoes if you like, but that is not really necessary as the tomatoes won’t be cooked.
Chop the shallot. Cut the tomatoes and the bell pepper into 1 cm (1/3″) dice.
If using sous-vide, cook the lobster tails for 45-60 minutes at 46C/115F and time it such that the lobster tails are ready when the risotto is ready.
Use a colander to drain the lobster stock into a pot.
Filter out scum and other particles using a sieve lined with kitchen paper.
You will now have a flavorful clear lobster stock to use for the risotto. Add a bit of salt to the stock. (The stock should be underseasoned, because it will be concentrated in the risotto!) Keep it simmering while you are preparing the risotto.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a thick-bottomed wide pan. Add the shallots and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes until translucent.
Add the rice and toast the rice over medium heat for a few minutes until the rice is very hot and the edges are translucent.
Add the white wine and stir until it has evaporated.
Add a ladle of the hot lobster stock.
Cook the rice, stirring, until the lobster stock has been absorbed.
Keep adding more lobster stock bit by bit and keep stirring until the rice is cooked, about 18 minutes. Taste to test whether the rice is cooked al dente: tender without a hard kernel but firm to the bite. Cover the rice and let it rest.
If not using sous-vide, poach the lobster tails in the simmering lobster stock for 8 minutes and keep them warm, wrapped in aluminum foil, in the oven around 60C/140F.
Heat two tablespoons butter in a frying pan over high heat and add the bell pepper. Sauté for a minute over high heat.
Add the peas and sauté for two minutes over high heat.
Add the lobster meat and tomatoes and sauté for another minute over high heat, until just heated through.
Add the vegetables and lobster mixture to the risotto.
Add the final tablespoon of butter and stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Take the lobster tails out of the sous-vide pouch or out of the oven and cut them in half lengthwise with a big sharp knife.
Devein the lobster tails (i.e. remove the intestine).
Put a ring mould in the center of a warm plate and fill it with the risotto. Please note that this will only work (i.e. stay in the shape of the mould when you remove the ring) if you cooked your risotto on the dry side. If you like your risotto on the wet side, just put a nice blob of risotto on the plate 🙂
Arrange half a lobster tail on top and garnish with freshly cut basil. Serve immediately.
Such a spectacular dish asks for a spectacular wine. White burgundy and lobster are friends. In this case I chose a 2007 Puligny-Montrachet from the famous domaine Olivier Leflaive. This wine has the typical minerality of Puligny-Montrachet, which is outstanding with the lobster. It is perfectly balanced, is well rounded to go with the risotto because of nicely integrated oak and has nice acidity to go with the tomato and peppers.