Auldo’s Lobster Bisque

I’ve never yet tried my hand at lobster bisque, and so when Auldo claimed his lobster bisque was top notch I asked him to give me a demo. The result was outstanding, and he volunteered to do a guest post on it. So for once, the only thing I did was taking the photos — and eating the wonderful bisque. Here’s Auldo…

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My journey into the arms of Stefan and Kees began in 2009 (or 1984, my year of birth, if you have an inclination towards technicalities!). While studying at the University of Amsterdam I started cooking and got absorbed by it. The first year I collected all the cookery books I could find and tried to recreate recipes. After a year I enrolled for two years at a cookery school, graduating as something between a commis and chef de partie. Without working in restaurants I felt I didn’t really progress. After lovingly caressing and studying The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal (in my view perfection in terms of style) for a few months, I thought a cook-through style blog would be perfect to remedy the situation. There wasn’t anything holding me back. Lots of free time? Check. Single? Check. Youthful ignorance? Check.

Some time after finishing the book I got an e-mail from two Amsterdam residents, Teun and Loek, who were starting up a cookery business and the request to sit down for some beers. One night of beers and we’ve been friends pretty much from then on out.

In comes Stefan! Teun came across Stefan’s blog while researching issues with sous vide cooking. Throwing questions in front of Stefan, Teun received the most thoughtful, extensive answers possible in his mailbox. Really attentive. He quickly invited Stefan over for lots of food and wine and I was lucky enough to join the table. As with me and Teun earlier, the difference being an evening of quality wines instead of beer, we’ve been friends ever since.

Ok. I’ll stop rambling on. Long story short: I have the extremely fortunate position to sit down on a chair at Stefan’s dining table on a regular basis. I think it is obvious on this blog, but as an eye witness, his food is amazing. The added dimension is his extensive wine collection. My view on wine has completely changed. The wines I’ve tasted with Stefan are out of this world. Again, really fortunate I can taste top-notch wines, learn about them and learn the basis of wine & food combinations.

To the subject at hand. The bisque. A few weeks ago Teun and I cooked a meal for Stefan and Kees. Buzzed from the wines they brought, I declared my lobster bisque was something to behold. 🙂 Knowing Stefan you know what that means. Two weeks later he had bought some lobsters and we were in the kitchen preparing them. Making me walk the walk instead of talking the talk.

Here’s my version of a lobster bisque.

Ingredients

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Serves 3

3 lobster bodies (1 body per person gives the best flavour, half a lobster doesn’t really work)

splash white wine

4 small tomatoes

1 fennel

1 onion

2 teaspoons tomato paste

3 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs tarragon

a bit of tabasco

a bit of vinegar

a bit of Worcestershire sauce

a bit of fish sauce

salt and pepper

To thicken the bisque

1 small carrot

1 onion

1 tin canned tomatoes (400 grams/14 oz)

For garnish

½ fennel (the inside)

1 shallot

15 sprigs samphire

5 small tomatoes

2 sprigs tarragon

1 tsp white wine vinegar

3 tsp olive oil

Preparation

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Kill the lobster with a knife by piercing the head of a lobster. There’s a clear cross on the head of the lobster where you can insert a knife for a quick and humane end.

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Clean the heads. Reserve the tomalley and roe. Discard the stomach.

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Tomalley and roe.

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Cut off the gills from the legs. They can impart, like the stomach, an unpleasant flavor to the soup.

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Bring a big pot of water to the boil, turn off the heat, add the claws.

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Steep for 7 minutes.

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Take the claws out of the hot water after steeping…

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…and allow them to cool in cold water. Take the meat out of the claw. Reserve for garnish.

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The knuckle part of the claw has wonderful meat. Strip them bad boys from the shells and add to the other ‘garnish meat’.

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I always use the shells from the claws in combination with the legs for the stock.

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Fry the shells in (sunflower or canola) oil.

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When the uncooked shells turn red(ish) and the kitchen starts to fill up with lobster fumes…

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…deglaze the pan with wine (we skipped brandy or similar kind of liquor).

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Chop the vegetables for the stock. Here we used fennel (the stringy outside part), onions, tomatoes, tarragon, thyme and bay leaf.

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For extra flavor in the stock, first sweat the vegetables and herbs.

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The tomatoes go in at the last minute.

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Add the shells…

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…and enough water to cover.

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Add tomato paste.

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You can smell when the stock is ready, as it will start to give of a hit of lobster aroma. I find 1 hour is best.

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Chop the claw meat in fairly large chunks to keep some texture and add it to the knuckle meat. I don’t use the tips of the claw meat (in the upper area of the photo), because they have a spongy texture. Reserve them for blending later on in the bisque.

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Reserve the claw and knuckle meat for garnish.

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There are many variations on thickening a lobster bisque: rice, a roux, combination of heavy cream and egg yolk, etc. I almost always try to use vegetables to thicken a soup instead of the other ways mentioned.

Sweat the onions and carrots for a few minutes in some oil.

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Add the tinned tomatoes.

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Break down the tomatoes with a spatula.

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Cook for about 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile make the vegetable garnish by chopping all the vegetables finely.

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Fennel.

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Samphire.

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Shallot.

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Take the seeds out of the tomatoes…

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…before chopping them.

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Combine the vegetables for the garnish in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix in some vinegar at least an hour before serving to mellow the raw vegetables.

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Stir to mix.

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Allow to marinate for at least an hour.

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Add the roe and tomalley for the last few minutes.

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Break up the shells to release more flavor.

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Strain the stock through a colander.

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Shake to get all the stock.

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Then strain through a fine sieve.

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Reduce by about half.

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Add to the vegetables (the ones for thickening the soup) and boil for about ten minutes to make sure all the vegetables are cooked through.

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Season with vinegar, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and tabasco (I like some heat!).

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Add everything to a blender.

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Don’t forget the tips of the claws for a boost in lobster flavour.

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Blend for 2 minutes until completely smooth.

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We used a little bit of fish sauce for an extra kick.

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Warm the bisque.

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Serve in bowls.

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Garnish with the lobster meat, the vegetables, whole pieces of samphire…

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…and olive oil.

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I absolutely love lobster bisque, maybe even more than a preparation of the tail meat. If you feel like taking your time and building the flavors for the bisque, you’ll definitely be rewarded.

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Wine pairing

Stefan pulled no punches in the wine department and we drank an amazing white Burgundy with the soup. Tasty!

Thanks Auldo, both for showing me how to make a killer bisque and for writing this great guest post. The wine was a Rully 1er cru, but another good white Burgundy or other oaked chardonnay with a nice balance between minerality, fruit, acidity and not too much oakiness would work.

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19 thoughts on “Auldo’s Lobster Bisque

    1. Hey

      Well you never dver pull in the stomach! The green roe yes. But this is used to thiken the sauce and has to be added just before serving an keep on stirring as it may clumb.
      The vegetable have to be take out and all the shells get shredded in the blender the passed through so there is no shell left in the soup.
      Final you shred the soup with the vegetables and mix it.

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  1. This looks phenomenal, but I fear it is beyond my abilities as a cook. I don’t have a problem steaming live clams and mussels, but dispatching a single lobster, let alone three, has me just a bit squeamish. I am sure once I set my mind to it, I would manage, but right now the thought is just a bit too much. Maybe if I tried it with langostinos first. It would be a lot cheaper too.

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  2. I know what you mean! The first couple of times I was shaking like a leaf preparing live lobsters. Now it’s no problem.

    Langoustines would be great! They also have a wonderful flavor. The beauty of a bisque is you can swap the lobster shells for almost every (lobster) type of shellfish. King prawns also work great.

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  3. What a fantastic dish, Stefan, and great guest post! Sautéing the lobster shells is such a good idea. I’m going to try it with shrimp the next time I make stock. I’m definitely saving this recipe for later. It would make an excellent primo piatto for a celebratory dinner. Thanks to you both.

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    1. Thanks, John. I’ve always sautéed shrimp shells for making stock, as it deepens the flavor. You are right this is great for a celebratory dinner. Of course this dish will turn any dinner into a celebration 🙂

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  4. Lovely post guys. Auldo’s process looks perfect! I love the idea of the “salsa” on top of the bisque.
    As much as I have cooked, I’ve always shied away from using the lobster’s tomalley/roe as well. I should try it next time.

    Like

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