Malaysian Chili Lobster
Lately, Andy, my unpaid assistant, partner in crime, lover, sidekick and friend has been nagging me to make a platter of lobster. Every time I ask him, “What would you like for dinner?” his replies remain consistent – “Lobster.” He has been on a lobster roll ever since The New Yorker published an article suggesting a price decrease for lobster. “How would you like it prepared?” his reply is still, “Lobster.”
You would think, a man who comes from Connecticut, one whose life is surrounded by a powerful web of fresh seafood, would have an opinion on how he would like his lobster. But the reality is, Andy has only had lobster once, when he was twelve years old, a few moons ago. That’s because lobsters are one of those sea creatures that have been high on the price list. He also said, ” I vaguely remember eating it. When it came to the table, it was rubbery and cold. I dipped it in a pool of butter and it tasted nothing more than salt water and butter.”
Yesterday, I gave in to Andy’s request and made lobster with chili sauce alla Malaysia. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a great job and please his palate. However, I certainly made a strong decision on staying away from the normal preparation of boiling the lobster and serving it with melted butter.
I began making the dish by plunging the lobster into a pot of boiling water. 5 minutes for the tail and an extra 2 minutes for the claws.
Then, I shocked them in ice to kill the cooking time.
I sliced open the tails in half and kept the flesh intact within the shells. By the end of my shell cracking session, the entire kitchen island was filled with this white stuff, spewing out from the lobster. Don’t worry, the white stuff is called hemolymph which is what the lobsters have instead of blood and intestines. That white stuff signifies the lobsters are fresh and had been alive until they have been cooked. Even my camera had white stuff!
I left the lobster to rest on a sheet tray and worked on my sauce.
Finally, I added the lobsters to the sauce (briefly – less than a minute) to coat them.
I garnished them with some chopped scallions.
When the dish was ready, Andy plunged into it. He wasn’t in a talking mood because his mouth wouldn’t take a rest from eating. I wish I could tell you specific details of the taste in this dish, but I am running out of ideas, especially when there is a medley of intricate flavors bursting in each bite. I will have to let the photographs do all the talking and hopefully it is as enticing as Andy’s second experience with lobsters!
Malaysian Chili Lobster
For the lobster
4 lbs lobster or 2 large live lobsters
A pot of boiling water
An ice bath
1) Plunge the lobsters into the pot of boiling water. It takes 5 minutes to cook the tails.
2) Remove the lobsters and tear off the claws. Place the tails in the ice bath.
3) Place the claws back into the pot of boiling water. Cook the claws for an extra 2 minutes.
4) Then, transfer the claws to the ice bath as well.
5) Using a sharp knife (cleaver works best), slice the tails in half, removing any swimmerets (tiny legs on the tail).
6) Use the back of the knife to crack open the claws or use a lobster cracker.
7) Remove the meat and place them on a sheet tray.
For the sauce
2 tablespoons of peanut oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 piece of ginger (4-5cm), slivered
7-8 scallions (white parts only), thinly sliced
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 whole Thai green chilies, stems removed.
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine or rice wine vinegar
A good heaping tablespoon of sambal belachan
4 tablespoons of dark or sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Salt and white pepper to taste
Chopped scallions for garnish
1) Bring a medium size pan to heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.
2) Sauté the onions for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, scallions (white part) and bay leaves.
3) Deglaze the pan with the Chinese cooking wine or rice wine vinegar.
4) Make a well in the center and toss in the sambal belachan.
5) Stir the contents in the pan for about 1 minute.
6) Pour in the soy sauce and dark soy. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture seems dry.
7) Toss is the lobster meat and coat well with the sauce (no more than 30 seconds).
8) Season well with salt and white pepper.
9) Garnish with green scallions.
Serve this warm with a side of white rice.
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