With all the restaurants closed it is nice to make restaurant-style food at home, using ingredients that we usually eat at restaurants like lobster. The idea to combine lobster with cauliflower came from Aqua. Instead of using regular cauliflower I used romanesco, a green type of cauliflower with a dramatic appearance. To make the dish more interesting I added homemade Thai green curry paste and coconut milk as the other main ingredients. The dish consists of the following components, using surprisingly few ingredients:
- Tender morsels of lobster from the tail and best part of the claws
- Lobster mousse from the remaining lobster meat and some lobster bisque, with a very concentrated lobster flavor
- Lobster bisque with coconut milk, creamy and full of flavor
- Romanesco and green curry mousse, creamy and spicy
- Thin crunchy slices of raw romanesco
It worked together very well and was delicious. If I had a restaurant, I would probably put this on the menu.
I cooked both the lobster and the romanesco sous-vide, but that is not required to get a good result. You could even use a lobster that is already cooked and frozen, as long as it comes in the shell so you can use the shells to make the bisque, but of course it will be more flavorful if you use live lobsters. If you can’t find romanesco, you could substitute with regular cauliflower. Homemade Thai green curry paste is much better than store-bought, but of course store-bought can be substituted.
For 4 servings as an appetizer
2 live lobsters of about 600 grams (1.3 lbs) each
1 romanesco cauliflower
2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste, preferably homemade
250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk
125 ml (1/2 cup) cream
chopped celery, onion, and carrot for the bisque
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
An important component of this dish is the bisque, so do not discard the water that you use to cook the lobster and do not add any salt to it.
I prefer to cook the lobster tail sous-vide as that way you can obtain a more tender texture, but you could also boil the lobster in the regular way.
To cook the lobster tail sous-vide, dispatch the lobsters using your preferred method and allow them to steep in hot water (just off the boil) for 1 minute only.
Remove the claws and legs and return them to the hot water to steep for another 6 minutes to finish cooking.
Peel the tails, reserving the shells.
Divide each tail into 4 morsels and season with salt.
Vacuum seal and cook sous-vide for 30 minutes at 54C/129F, afterwards plunge in cold water to cool and then refrigerate.
Get out all of the lobster meat. Keep the nice parts of the claws separate and combine the other meat (soft part of the claws, legs, and knuckles) in a bowl. Reserve the shells, but discard all the parts that will give a bitter flavor to the stock like the gills.
Vacuum seal the nice parts of the claw (to heat them up later for service). Refrigerate all the lobster meat.
Add the lobster shells to the lobster cooking water together with chopped celery, onion, and carrot. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for an hour.
To make the slices of romanesco, start with a floret and cut it in half.
From each half you can obtain one thin slice using a sharp chef’s knife.
Trim away the trunk. Discard the trunk but keep the remaining romanesco for the mousse.
Keep going until you have enough slices. I made 20 but ended up using only 16 (4 per serving).
Reserve the romanesco slices in a bowl with cold water and refrigerate to keep them crunchy.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan and add two tablespoons of green curry paste. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
The amount of curry paste depends on how spicy it is and your personal preference. When in doubt start using less, as you can always add more later.
You will need about 300 grams (.66 lb) of romanesco. Use the florets only, not the trunk. Combine it with the curry paste in a bowl and mix.
Vacuum seal the romanesco with the curry paste and cook sous-vide for 2 hours at 85C/185F.
Alternatively, steam the romanesco without the curry paste, and then mix the steamed romanesco with the curry paste.
Blend the romanesco and curry paste with the cream until very smooth. If you don’t have a strong blender like a Vitamix, you could use a foodmill to make the romanesco mousse more smooth, or push it through a sieve. Taste and add salt or more curry paste as needed (cook the curry paste in oil as before).
When the lobster stock has simmered for an hour, strain it, discarding the solids.
Sieve the stock again using a fine sieve.
Bring the stock to a boil in a wide pan and then simmer it over medium heat…
…until reduced to 250 ml (1 cup).
You can use a measuring jug to check whether it has been reduced sufficiently.
Now put the coconut milk in a wide pan…
…and bring it to a boil.
Add half (so 125 ml or 1/2 cup) of the lobster bisque.
Allow this to simmer…
…until nice and thick and with a strong but pleasant flavor. If needed you could add some more of the lobster bisque.
To make the lobster mousse, add 1 tablespoon of the lobster bisque to the reserved lobster meat…
…and blend until smooth.
Add a teaspoon of arrowroot or cornstarch…
…and whisk to mix.
Heat this mixture over medium heat, stirring, until it thickens, then turn off the heat. Taste and add more lobster bisque if needed.
You will have leftover lobster bisque, which freezes very well and can for instance be used to make risotto (if diluted with water or fish stock).
When you are ready to serve, pat the romanesco slices dry with paper towels and season them with salt.
Gently reheat the romanesco mousse, lobster mousse, and lobster coconut bisque.
Putting both types of mousse in piping bags makes it easier to plate the dish.
Reheat the morsels of lobster meat sous-vide at 54C/129F for 10-15 minutes. You could also reheat or keep warm the lobster and romanesco mousse by putting the piping bags in the sous-vide.
Use preheated plates, as otherwise the dish will be cold before you are finished plating it.
Start with a ‘wall’ of romanesco mousse. Put a half circle of lobster mousse, and pour lobster coconut bisque in the area between the romanesco mousse and the lobster mousse. (To make it even more like a restaurant, you could do this pouring at the table.) Arrange the lobster morsels and romanesco slices leaning against the wall of romanesco mousse. I added a cilantro leaf for garnish.
This was excellent with a Condrieu. A Viognier from another area would also be a good idea, as long as it is made in a creamy aromatic style.
I’ve made these Iraqi date cookies again the other day, and they are so good!