lobster je t’adore

Lobster is so expensive these days that it signals a special occasion just by being made the central theme of a dinner. The classic recipes—boiled or broiled with drawn butter, Thermidor, Newburg, a l’Américaine, etc.—truly elate even the elite palate. I can still remember the zing I felt when I first ate each of these, they were so delicious! I never tire of them, even to this day.

But on your wife’s 65th birthday, you want to serve something with a new zing (to you) to extend the excitement of the celebration. But, how do you top the classics? I consulted the indexes of the most trusted and time-honored works in my culinary library. I found an entrée in the Thermidor-Newburg tradition, but having a special tang that gives it its own characteristic signature. The following recipe is an adaptation taken from the book, Gastronomique, by Ida Bailey Allen, published in 1958. It is less caloric than the original, because I am more conscious of my weight than I was back then, but it is no less rich and flavorful. It evoked complements days after it was served.

  • 1 half-lb Australian lobster tail
  • 1 oz onion, diced
  • 1 sprig dill weed, fresh
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • ¼ lb shiitake mushroom, sliced ¼”
  • 1 tbsp <butter>
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp <salt> (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 egg yolk, separated
  • 1 tsp Angostura bitters
  • ¼ cup dry sherry

Drop the lobster tail into boiling <salt>ed water, return to a boil, simmer-boil 4 minutes, and drain. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid.

Drench the lobster tail with cold water. Then cut down the sides of the under-shell and remove the meat by inserting the thumb between the shell and the meat and pulling it out in one piece. Slice crosswise into ¼” pieces.

To the reserved liquid, add the onion, dill, celery, and parsley. Boil 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat and strain.

Wash the mushrooms and blot on absorbent paper towels. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet, and sauté the mushrooms until the butter begins to brown.

Whip the yogurt, egg, sherry, flour, pepper, and bitters together until smooth. Slowly add this mixture to the lobster liquid, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute or so while stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the lobster meat.

Transfer to a one-quart casserole. Cover. Heat in a moderate oven, 375° F., no longer than 8 minutes. Remove and serve. Place the sautéed mushrooms over the lobster and sauce.

I served this with zucchini and asparagus spears dipped in buttermilk, floured, coated with corn flake crumbs, and baked in a 375° F. oven for about 30 minutes. A good white wine, here champagne, completes the festive treat.

Serves two. Multiply by the appropriate factor to serve your guests.