Lobster Soup, Tom Kha style (and a note about lobster tamale at the end)
Lobster has been on sale, all week. (It’s the only time I buy this item of seafood, well, unless I’m vacationing in Maine, which I haven’t done since about 2008 or 2009.)
My tastebuds have been hankering for Thai seasonings. My very favorite thing to order at Thai restaurants is their seafood Tom Kha soup. You know, galanga root, lemon grass, cilantro, coconut. Shiitake. Yes, especially shiitake, although that’s not necessary for Tom Kha, but it is in this house… And a nice hearty seafood soup sounded good for the chill in the current weather. Soooo.. let’s DO it! And let’s use lobster!
First, I gathered all the ingredients (there are a couple things depicted below which I didn’t end up using, but I’ll talk about that, below).
1 lobster (1.25 – 1.5 lb). (I ended up cooking two at the same time but… see below…)
Reserved shrimp shells, optional (Remember the Rhode Island red shrimp? I’d frozen the shells for such a purpose)
Broth from lobster pot after cooking – 50-60 ounces (and/or clam juice 1 – 2 bottles, 3 ounces each bottle, with water to make up the difference)
4 ounces dry sherry (optional)
1 can coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons of Southeast Asian fish or oyster sauce (if you can’t find this, don’t sweat it. Maybe try coconut aminos.)
1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
3 ounces shiitake, thinly sliced (Stems removed of course)
1 baby bok choy, chopped
about 5 inches of heart of palm, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced fine
1/2 teaspoon Ground lemongrass
1/2 teaspoon Ground galangal root
1/2 teaspoon Grated galangal (you can buy this as a dried root, or in a jar as shown here, and grate it yourself)
Ground pepper to taste
Optional things I didn’t have or didn’t use: (I didn’t open the jar of Roland’s sliced lemon grass soaked in brine, because I have no idea when I’d get around to using more.)
Half a can of water chestnuts, for some crunch, coarsely chopped.
Cilantro as a garnish
Finely sliced lemon grass as a garnish
A few sprigs of scallion/green onion as a garnish
Hot Thai chili peppers, one or two depending on taste tolerance De-seed or not, it’s up to you.
Cook the lobster: get a big steampot and heat up enough water that will cover the lobsters.
When the water is boiling, add lobster, cover, return to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and allow to simmer for about 10-12 minutes (for the above-sized lobster).
Now the tedious part: Pick your lobster meat. I break open the lobster and reserve the tamale and any roe (see comments about tamale at the bottom of this blog post). Pick everything else, including the body meat, and set aside. Put the shells (both lobster and shrimp, if using) into another pot. Rather than picking the tiny legs, I simply broke them up so that the water could get at their flavor while making the stock. Any of the lobster butter (that white soft coating over the meat of the lobster) I put into the stock pot, as well.
Add the lobster pot broth (or water as mentioned above) to the stock pot. Add the clam juice if using — I decided not to use as that stuff is pretty salty and I already had a good base of lobster pot broth going. Besides, I used the shells from TWO lobsters (even though the actual meat was going to be from less than one of them).
Bring to a boil, remove any foam that rises to the surface, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
Strain out the shells and other stuff through a colander, reserving the stock.
Now for the fun: Add in all the veggies, and the grated galangal, and and the fish sauce, and the hot chili pepper if using, and simmer about 20 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and the spices and LOBSTER! I’d say the meat from about 2/3′rds of one lobster. (The rest of this will make an excellent salad.) Simmer another 10 minutes, then add the sherry if using. Adjust galangal and lemon grass as desired. Add the lime — slice it and squeeze it, pulp and all, into the soup.
Simmer a couple more minutes, then serve, topped with any garnishes (cilantro, lemon grass slivers, green onion). I tried floating a bit of lobster claw on top, but that didn’t work out.
This made several servings of soup — I hesitate to say how many but at least three, probably four, possibly five. Depends on how far you let liquids cook down for optimal taste, and the size of your serving bowls or cups.
Note: neither the sherry nor the hearts of palm are particularly Thai, but hey. A little acknowledged fusion does the heart good.
Lobster Tamale and Roe
I love this stuff. The green tamale is essentially the lobster liver, and as such is a de-toxifying organ of the crustacean. (This fact is the reason some folks won’t eat it. Other people won’t eat it because it looks gross to them — frankly to me it looks something like guacamole, only warm and without the tomato. Then again I know some folks who think guacamole is gross. Go figure.) Anyhow, with the lobster being wild-caught off the shores of Maine (or sometimes, eastern Canada), I figure the tamale is pretty safe. As far as the roe goes, it’s okay, not very flavorful in itself, and somewhat dry, but I’m not going to waste it.
Anyhow, tamale doesn’t taste like avocado in any shape or form, but it has a nice soft texture and a mild seafood flavor. This is my first experiment in reserving it to be eaten later, rather than immediately pulled from the body cavity and savored.
Verdict: Chilled: not bad at all. If I were to use it as a dip, I’d let it come to room temp, or warm it slightly, since it solidifies a little in the fridge. Do break up the roe into smaller bits.
Add a pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of ground chipotle chili powder (unsalted), and it’s great just spooning up at room temperature, as is.
At any rate, great way to use this food if your lobster recipe doesn’t call for tamale, as in the above Lobster Soup or my brother’s Lobster Pie.
Entered into Fresh Bites Friday. http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/blog/