I remember the first time lobster bisque passed through my lips. In one of the fanciest restaurants I’d been to date (I was probably 31), in Nashville, of all places, my server was the most gracious person I’ve ever met. When I told him I’d never had lobster bisque, he promised it would be the best thing ever. He didn’t let me down.
Lobster bisque has become one of those perfect dishes upon which I judge opulence. Properly made, a spoonful should tease your tongue with a subtly briny sea taste, then the cream hits, and like a whisper, it is gone. You take bite after bite, feeling this amazing culinary creation with all of your senses, and all of a sudden, the bowl is empty. You want to weep. You want more. Like you wanted just one more season of Seinfeld. But great chefs know that the proper amount of a dish should leave you wanting more.
This is an ambitious soup. I wanted to try it for several months, and after dissecting many recipes, I decided upon Cathy Pollak’s adaptation – Lobster Bisque. I’ve followed Cathy’s blog, Noble Pig, for many years. She is truly talented. We visited her Noble Pig wine tasting room in Carlton, Oregon this summer. Her wines are bliss.
Yesterday was a blustery Saturday, the day before our anniversary, and I wanted to make a truly decadent meal to celebrate seven years together. I followed the recipe as closely as I could (I rarely follow recipes), but after a good discussion over the finished product, my husband and I felt it needed modifications. So I will post my adaptation, and try again soon. It was a little time consuming, but some of the time was passive, such as waiting for the sauces to reduce.
1 lobster tail, about 4 ounces (mine was frozen, but I made sure to thaw it completely)
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1/2 tablespoon
1/2 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 cup fennel, chopped
1/2 cup shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoons brandy
1 Tablespoon raw white rice (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon seafood better-than-bullion
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Split the lobster tail in half and de-vein. Steam the lobster tail in a double-broiler steamer over 2 cups of boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Save the liquid lobster water. Let the lobster cool for a few minutes. Remove the tail meat from the shells. Chill the meat until the very end.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté the lobster shells in 1 tablespoon olive oil for a few minutes to release the flavors. Deglaze the pan (with the shells and scrape the bits at the bottom) with 1 cup dry white wine. I used a Sauvignon Blanc, you could also use a Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or un-oaked Chardonnay (dry wine is needed here). Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup of the reserved lobster water. Simmer until reduced, about 30 minutes. Strain the shells from the stock and let rest while you prepare the vegetables.
In the same pan (no need to dirty another one), sauté the fennel and shallot in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, about 10 minutes. The vegetables will be soft and slightly browned. Add the diced tomato, brandy, raw white rice, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, lobster stock, and better-than-bullion. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Pour the soup into a tall bowl and use an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender. Be very careful, because this is hot liquid. When the liquid is blended and smooth, return to the original lobster-steaming pot (without the steamer, or just use a larger soup pot) and stir in heavy cream and fresh lemon juice. Give it another stir and taste test.
Cut the chilled lobster meat into bite-sized pieces. In a small pan, saute the lobster meat in 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes to heat it.
Add the lobster meat to the bowl first, then cover with the bisque.
Serve immediately with cracked black pepper.
I had my husband grill up succulent rib eye steaks, while I baked olive-oil, salt-crusted potatoes (400 degrees for 60 minutes).
My favorite dry-rub for a perfectly good piece of red meat, for 2:
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon each of black, white, red, and green peppercorns
Use a mortar and pestle to crush the peppercorns and release the peppery goodness.
Rub the mixture over the steaks and let sit for 15 minutes before grilling
Kindly ask your grillmaster to grill the steaks to perfection.
Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, Josh! Seven years of fun memories, travel, great food and wine … and counting. Cheers to many more!