Monday, 16 February 2015

Butter Poached Lobster Tail, Lobster Mayonnaise and Asparagus with Watercress and Grapefruit Salad

A delicious starter, or even light meal for when you want something a bit special...

Yet, this is surprisingly, actually really easy to make, for the most part! If you didn't want to make the mayonnaise you could still make the lobster oil if you fancied, and use that in the dressing for the watercress salad instead, or you could cheat completely and use ready made mayonnaise and mix in a little lemon juice, and a tiny bit of tomato puree, and maybe even a a little crushed roasted garlic?

Either way, I'd love you to try this lobster and see how delicious and easy to cook it really is!

Serves two, easily doubled or tripled (although the mayonnaise makes a full 300-350ml quantity, so you won't need to double that!).
Both the grapefruit and nectarine work well against the richness of the lobster and mayonnaise, but if you don't like one, just increase the other, and just use lemon juice in your dressing. You can change the side salad and dressing to suit your own tastes, and you don't have to make your own lobster mayonnaise and oil, of course (so don't be put off by all the ingredients!) - it's the butter poached lobster that is the star of the dish.

For the butter poached lobster tails
  • Two small, raw lobster tails, approximately 125g each (e.g. Maine lobster tails, available from Sainsbury's fresh fish counter in the UK)
  • 50g salted butter cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
 For the accompaniments
  • 6 fine asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
  • 25g salted butter
  • 1 tsp neutral oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 handfuls baby watercress
  • 2 red radishes, finely sliced
  • 8-10 thin slices fresh nectarine (just under half a nectarine)
  • 6 segments grapefruit, blood red/pink if possible*
  • 1 tbsp grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or lobster oil if preferred)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crusty bread to serve, e.g. ciabatta (optional)
  • Olive oil for brushing, if making crostini from the ciabatta slices
  • Fresh chives, snipped at the last minute, to garnish
*It's easiest to cut the peel off the grapefruit, and then cut the segments out with a sharp knife

For the lobster mayonnaise, if making
  • 3 medium egg yolks (at room temperature - approximately 50-70g)
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of dijon mustard (at room temperature)
  • 300 ml lobster oil, as below (at room temperature)
  • Lemon juice (of half to one lemon, to taste)
  • Fine sea salt to taste (up to 1 tsp)

For the lobster oil, if making
  • Tail shells from the two lobster tails, cut into three pieces each
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 banana shallot or 2-3 small shallots, peeled (45g)
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed / peeled (70g)
  • 35g leek (1 baby leek, or 3-4 inches normal leek)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp paprika (mild/sweet)
  • 20g concentrated tomato paste/puree (couple of heaped tsp)
  • 300ml grapeseed oil (or you could use cold-pressed rape seed oil, or whatever your favourite oil for making mayonnaise is - I don't recommend using extra virgin olive oil, as the flavour is too strong)
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh tarragon

Essential Equipment
  • Small food bag, waterproof and suitable for heating up to 60 degrees celcius (e.g. re-sealable or ziploc/snaplock or vacuum sealable)
  • Sous vide machine or Thermomix or large stock pot and thermometer

1. If making the lobster mayonnaise (or lobster oil), you need to start by making the lobster oil and cooling it down to room temperature. See here for how to remove the shells for making the oil / prepare the lobster tails. You can prepare this a day in advance if you find it easier.

2. To make the lobster oil, all the ingredients are roughly chopped, then everything except for the tarragon is gently heated in the oil for 20 minutes. The tarragon is then added, and everything is set aside to cool, then strained. For my detailed instructions (including Thermomix instructions) see here.

3. To make the lobster mayonnaise, whisk together the egg yolks and mustard, then very slowly add the oil while continuing to whisk vigorously until emulsified, and season with lemon juice and salt to taste. For my detailed instructions (including food processor and Thermomix videos) and tips see here.

4. To poach the lobster, pre-heat the sous vide machine to 59C (or see here for Thermomix instructions), gently brown half of the butter with the oil, then take off the heat and stir in the rest of the butter and some freshly ground black pepper. Seal the warm butter and lobster tail meat in a small food bag, and cook for 15 minutes - my detailed instructions for this are here.

5. While the lobster is poaching, assemble the salad of watercress, grapefruit, radish and nectarine slices on the plate. Gently cook the asparagus spears in the 25g butter and tsp oil in a pan for a few minutes until tender, and mix the salad dressing together (grapefruit juice, lemon juice, mustard and oil with seasoning). If making crostini, brush four of slices of ciabatta with oil, and set on a searing hot griddle for around a minute on each side.

6. Put the asparagus spears on the plate near the salad, and top with the lobster tail, a little drizzle of the butter from the lobster, some mayonnaise to the side, and scatter some chopped chives over the lobster and mayonnaise. Spoon a little dressing over the salads and serve with the crusty bread / crostini, and (optionally) the remainder of the buttery lobster juices in a bowl to dip your bread into!

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