Grilled lobster from Cancale
We have just returned from a short holiday to mark our wedding anniversary. We went to Rouen, Dieppe and Granville in Normandy and Cancale in Brittany, because we love the coast.
In Rouen, I ate the best tripe ever, in Dieppe I had a very nice turbot, in Granville we had whelks with our beer at a bar and discovered a desert of apricot ‘soup’ with rosemary and ice cream.
In Cancale, famed for its oysters, we had a large platter of seafood for dinner and also bought a lobster and oysters to take back home.
The lobster was a good 800 grammes, blue European lobster, packaged in a box with seaweed and a bottle with ice cold water so that it could survive the journey of some 400 km.
Lobster is a royal dish. The meat is lean and has a delicate taste. Often, however, the animal has been out of the water for too long, or it has been overcooked so that a sauce is needed to give it back some taste.
I once ate lobster in a well-known seafood restaurant in London – some 20 years back – and was served a kind of white rubber bathing in butter.
Many classic lobster recipes call for butter and cream, add an alcohol like cognac and use herbs like bay leaf. The lobster is boiled in water or cut up in pieces and fried with a sauce.
The lobster Thermidor recipe combines the two in a way as you first cook the meat and add a sauce, then you fill the carapace halves and broil for a few minutes. It is easy to understand why this recipe is popular with restaurants as you can prepare ahead and serve to order.
But, as with chicken, in the end you mainly taste the sauce.
I made a simple version of grilled lobster and added a sauce of the lobster eggs. That was not obvious from the start as the eggs make up a black substance that turns green before finally, with heat, turning reddish pink.
- One large lobster (for two people, or one small lobster per person)
- Two tablespoons of chopped onion
- One kilo of coarse sea salt
- A glass of cider
- A tablespoon of cider vinegar
- 100 cl of cream
- White pepper
- Kill the lobster by inserting a knife in the carapace between the eyes.
- Cut the lobster in two lengthwise.
- In the halves you will find white flesh, a line of greenish paste and, if the lobster is female, a line of blackish paste. Remove anything else you see. Put the black paste (eggs) aside. I discarded the green bit (the liver), you can eat it but I did not like to colour the white lobster flesh.
- Heat an oven to 175 °C.
- Put coarse salt in a large oven dish and put in the lobster halves, flesh side down. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the cider, vinegar and onion in a skillet and reduce the liquid to just a few tablespoons.
- Put the eggs in a blender, add the reduced liquid and blend.
- Take the dish from the oven, turn the lobster halves and cover the flesh with aluminium foil, cook for another five minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a final five minutes. (The meat in the claws needs more time to cook due to the carapace than the open meat in the halves).
- Add cream to the blender and put the obtained greenish liquid in a metal bowl that you can put in a pan with boiling water, heat while turning with a spoon or whisk until the green liquid turns a nice lobster red. Add this sauce over the lobster halves, add some white pepper and serve.
- I added some briefly (2 minutes) grilled wild oysters to the presentation.