Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lobster Bisque

I recently did something I never do. I sent a bowl of Lobster Bisque back at a restaurant. Sending something back seems pretentious, as well as dangerous when you still have food to come out of the kitchen. Normally I would keep my mouth shut, eat as much as I could, or just leave it and hope the server notices the lack of enjoyment and inquires about it. But it was my birthday, the soup was the reason I had chosen to eat there, and they were charging $9 for a bowl of Lobster Bisque that didn't have a speck of lobster in it. Feeling courageous from a few birthday drinks, I asked the server about the lack of the much craved crustacean. He spoke to the chef and came back with the answer that it was made in the traditional way. I believe I'd call that soup "lobster stock with way too much tomato paste" then! I could not even taste any seafood through the overpowering tomato paste.

Fast forward one month later. That lobster bisque craving never went away. In fact, like a litter of rabbits, it continued to grow and consumed me to the point of researching which restaurants had the best lobster bisque around. So when I was at the seafood counter in the grocery store staring down a frozen lobster tail and the lady asked, "Would you like anything else?" I replied, "A lobster tail, please!"

What was I thinking? I had never made lobster before. It's fairly easy to overcook it and mess it up. I didn't even have a recipe or know if I had the ingredients to make lobster bisque. The culinary courage that has been growing in me recently kicked in and I thought, no matter, I had the most important part, and I'd wing the rest.

After looking up several recipes, and conforming them to the ingredients I had on hand, I finally decided on a cooking method. I boiled 2 cups of water in a stock pot and placed the thawed tail on a strainer out of reach of the water. Most recipes said steam for 7-8 minutes, so I steamed my 4 oz. tail for 5 minutes knowing it would cook a little in the soup as well. After deveining the lobster and chopping it up, I added the shells and 1 cup chicken stock to the water left in the stock pot and let it come to a slow boil.

Having no tomato paste, I found a can of whole cooked tomatoes. I squeezed out the juice of 2, added 2 cloves of raw garlic and pureed.

Then sea salt, parsley and basil joined the party. I added chicken stock to the bowl, and once it was as smooth as it was going to get, I took the lobster shells out of the stock pot and poured the tomato mixture in. I also added 1/2 tsp of worcestershire sauce and 1 tbs butter. After a couple minutes of simmering, I turned the heat to low.

Finally 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 tbs flour, and the lobster meat I had so desperately been craving went into the pot. I gave it a minute or two to heat through, and into the bowls it went.

While it wasn't the best lobster bisque I've ever had, I can honestly say it satiated my craving. The lobster was thankfully not overdone and chewy. The tomato was not overpowering the soup. And I got a good seafood taste from each bite.

My son gave it a 10 out of 10. It was his first time trying lobster bisque, so he apparently likes it now too. His partaking is the reason I didn't add any cayenne pepper. And in the future when I make this, I'll be sure to have some sherry, green onion or chives, and bay leaves on hand. Maybe some fish stock instead of chicken stock too, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

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