Friday, December 21, 2012

Classic Lobster Bisque – Finally!

I usually don’t have a good answer for why I’ve not gotten around to filming certain iconic dishes like risotto, beef Wellington, and puff pastry; but when it comes to lobster bisque, I do have a great excuse.

I won’t bore you with the details of how the tradition started (translation: I don’t remember), but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always made lobster bisque on Christmas Eve, to celebrate my sister-in-law Jennifer’s birthday.

And since the few days leading up to Christmas are always so busy and hectic with shopping, cooking, and travel, I’ve just never felt like I’ve had the time to set up the camera to properly film the procedure. Well, this year I decided to give it a go, and despite all the aforementioned challenges, I was very happy with how this came out.

One word of warning: this recipe requires live lobsters, brandy, and heavy cream. If you can’t get, or don’t want to use those ingredients, then you’ll have to make something else. Sorry, but this recipe is too sacred for substitutions.

Speaking of live lobsters, I know many are skeptical that these “bugs” can actually feel pain, but to play it safe, I recommend putting them in the freezer for 20 or 30 minutes to knock them out cold before their ultimate demise.

I only showed the cracking and the picking of the lobster meat very briefly, as this video was already too long for my tastes, but below I’ll link an additional tutorial that show this in more detail. Yes, this soup takes a little bit of work and expense, but I think you’ll agree with me (and Jennifer) that all the effort is well worth it. Enjoy!

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts:
2 live lobsters (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
1 onion, chopped
2 rib celery, chopped
3 quarts cold water (this will reduce by about half during the entire cooking process)
3 cloves garlic
4 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
1/3 cup white long grain rice
2 tbsp cheap brandy (inexpensive brandy tends to be a little sweeter, and works well here)
1/2 cup heavy cream, or more if you like it creamier
salt and cayenne to taste
1 tbsp chopped tarragon to garnish

Bonus Lobster Meat Recovery Video: 
This video shows the picking of the lobster meat in much more detail than I did. Since they are boiling the lobster, you can just skip to the part where he is liberating all the meat. For more general lobster info, you can also check out this page on Allrecipes.