Madras Lobster Chops, Claw Pilau (Serves 16-20)
with AAA Basmati, Courgette, Broad Beans, Apricot & Scorched Herbs – a fantastic, impressive looking and delicious dish to cook for a party or outdoor event. It’s my take on a pilau dish, combining freshest ingredients; spanking lobsters, sultry spices, fruits and green herbs. Once the lobster prep is done, the rest’s a doddle. Not for everybody the preparation of lobsters, it really is best done at the same time as cooking the dish. I’ve described below how I would manage the lobsters.
What you need
1 Heavy chopping knife
1 Cast iron skillet
1 Paella pan, 60cm diameter
1 Pair poultry shears or heavy kitchen scissors
3 x 850-900g blue lobsters, must be lively and heavy
200g butter, unsalted
2 sachets of Green Saffron Madras spice blend
4 tsp, 15g Green Saffron Chapata chilli flakes
2 oranges, zested
3 prepared lobsters, please see below
150g Arun’s Madras butter, as above
Splash of grapeseed oil, about 25ml
500g banana shallots, chopped medium brunoise
2 sticks, 100g celery de-stringed, then sliced 6mm thick
1 head garlic, peeled, finely diced
2 to 3½ litres very light chicken, warmed
200g, 1 medium courgette, diced 10mm
150g broad beans blanched refreshed & peeled OR 1 cob of corn, outer leaves peeled, cleaned and sliced into 6 wedges
3 baby leeks, halved through their lengths
the reserved lobster juices
Tarragon – long soft pluches
Dill – picked pluches
Chives – cut 40mm
Marjoram – picked pluches
Italian, flat-leaf parsley – picked pluches
Baby basil – picked pluches
Mint – picked leaves
Celery leaf picked
(You’re aiming to have about 8 tablespoons full of herbs)
10 semi-dried apricots – each one cut into 3 even slices
200g cottage cheese, full fat
How to make it
- Add 150g of your butter and the splash of oil to the pan, when foaming, add the shallots and gently fry until soft then add the celery, the garlic. Fry for another minute
- Add the rice, the lobsters’ claws, the retained head meat and stir with 2 ltr of the stock, then allow to cook, gently bubbling. Keep an eye on the rice, don’t stir it but gently push it to check how it’s cooking, adding more stock as necessary. After about 10 minutes, add the courgette dice the broad beans or corn, the leek halves, any retained lobster juices and gently stir to combine. The rice will take about 25 minutes to cook, maybe a little longer depending on the diameter of the pan you’re using
- Meanwhile in the heavy skillet, dry fry the lobster chops. They need only about 1½ to 2 mins per side, then remove from the pan and set aside.
- Using the same hot pan, scorch the herbs for only just 20 to 30 seconds so as to blacken some leaves, some not. Set aside
- In a small saucepan, make a quick butter sauce by gently heating a little stock and whisking in any remaining butter. Pour into a small jug. Pop the lobster chops on the cooked rice, gently pushing them into the pilau. Pop random dollops of the cottage cheese over the rice, scatter over the apricot slices, then place on the ‘herb bunches’. Take the pan, dinner plates and butter sauce to table with lots of paper serviettes, spoon generously onto guests’ plates and enjoy!
Lobster Mise en Place
Please ensure you dispatch, kill the lobster cleanly. There are plenty of videos on-line showing how this can be best achieved.
- Dispatch each lobster with a pointed heavy knife on the cross mark at the base of the head cut down and away direction the head so you effectively kill them even if moving about
- Then twist off the claws and the smaller larger feelers from the body – reserve
- Twist and pull the ‘tail’ away from the head “over a tray to catch all those delicious lobster essences”
- Then cut the head properly in half, remove the sac from the head, the rest you spoon into a small bowl reserving all the juices as well.
- Pull off the dead-mans’ fingers from inside the head discard remove and any other tasty bits
- Rinse and reserve the head sections. Trim them with poultry shears then blanch for 3 minutes so bright red rub a little light oil on head sections so they glisten so these look amazing reserve until final assembly
- Then take your tail to turn it onto its ‘back’, so the fleshy parts are exposed, flatten it, take your knife and cut between the carapace so you create individual chops “one shell width wide” keeping the tail section with two “joints” so a reasonable amount of meat then split this into two cutting vertically through the tail.
- Clean up the ‘Lobster chops’ with a pair of fish scissors so no feelers etc discard these
- Trim the last chop nearest the head so that it’s neat and tidy reserve the trimmings for adding to the rice as before
- The feelers leave as is adding to rice 10 minutes before the end of the cooking – you suck these to gain access to the meat inside
- Now crack the claws, ditto the knuckles with a measured but confident blow with the fat end of your chopping knife, the part closest to its handle.
- You will have 9 ‘Lobster chops’, 6 half tail chops, a number of small feelers as well as the meat from the head, juices and claws & knuckles.