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…
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.
3 lobster bodies (1 body per person gives the best flavour, half a lobster doesn’t really work)
splash white wine
4 small tomatoes
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 tin canned tomatoes (400 grams/14 oz)
½ fennel (the inside)
15 sprigs samphire
5 small tomatoes
2 sprigs tarragon
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tsp olive oil
The knuckle part of the claw has wonderful meat. Strip them bad boys from the shells and add to the other ‘garnish meat’.
When the uncooked shells turn red(ish) and the kitchen starts to fill up with lobster fumes…
Chop the vegetables for the stock. Here we used fennel (the stringy outside part), onions, tomatoes, tarragon, thyme and bay leaf.
Add tomato paste.
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.
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.
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.
Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
Don’t forget the tips of the claws for a boost in lobster flavour.
Warm the bisque.
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.