Lobster Bisque

Posted by johngl

As many of you know, I’ve had a couple of postings on lobster lately.  Last weekend, for instance, I sent a couple of live lobsters to the great beyond and we had a delicious dinner.  But, being the frugal home cook that I am, I didn’t want to waste the shells, legs, and other body parts.

Lobster Bisque (with plenty of lobster)
There is no shortage of lobster in this bowl of bisque!

For the Valentine’s Day dinner, I made a quick pan sauce using the shells…

Sweating the shells for a pan sauce

but there was still an awful lot of goody left in them.  So, after I deglazed this pan with some wine, I fished out the shells and dumped them straight into a stock pot, topped it off with some tap water, and set it to boiling.  Turning it down to simmer after about two minutes of some vigorous boilage, I just let it cook away for about an hour.  The yeild was about a quart of lobster stock.

By this time, dinner was over and we were tidying up the kitchen. In case you didn’t know it, there is a lot of fallout when you kill and butcher things in your kitchen. Lobster is no exception.

I was getting ready to take the stock outdoors to chill down (it was about 50 degrees out there) when the most glorious spousal unit asked:

“Whatcha gonna do with all that stock?”
“Use it for lobster bisque,” I said with a smile.
“We can have lobster bisque for dinner tomorrow” she said matter-of-factly.
“We don’t have any more lobster” says I.
“We can buy more lobster!” she said with a large grin.
“I see how you are,” I chuckled.

And so began the quest for bisque.

There is this new grocer in town (opened Feb. 11) that took over the old Hobby Lobby space at the corner of Manchaca and William Cannon in South Austin (Yay!  A store us southies can get to).  They call themselves  Newflower Farmers Market:

Newflower Farmers Market

Apparently, this is one in a series of stores moving eastward out of California and has a slogan that proclaims: Serious Food at Silly Prices.  I’ll say up front that I am not much for marketing slogans, especially those with the word silly in the them,  but I’ll save my review of the store for a future post.

So, back to that lobster quest.  We found some tails.

these are all supposed to weigh 5 oz

I did the quick poach on some tails:

after a quick poach

Du-u-de, check out those colors…I think these are alien.

very colorful

I believe that these are actually spiny lobster (or rock lobster) — they don’t have those big (tasty) claws we saw on the live ones from New England.  I don’t know where these lobsters came from because there was no signage that told me a thing about them.

Anyway, I shelled them:

shelled and ready for sous vide

Now, I bet you are wondering what the heck I am going to do with these barely poached, mostly raw chunks of tail.  Naturally, I am going to cook them in butter.  But not just any butter.  The butter I used for the sous-vide the day before.

lobster butter

Just put those tails on top of this hunk o’fat and bag them up.  It’s sous-vide time again!

bagged and ready

Back to the stock for a minute.  I got it to boiling again, added in the shells from these new tails and let that cook on medium for about a half hour.  Since I wanted to reduce the amount of stock anyway (to concentrate that lobster goodness) this accomplished two things at once.

Straining out the shells…

straining the shells

I now had a very flavorful stock reduction that was ready to finish out.


I added a tablespoonful of tomato paste and let that cook a bit, then added about a quarter cup of cream.  I had some sauce left over from the Valentine’s Day dinner the night before, so I threw that in as well.  Adding some piquin powder, salt, and pepper, the bisque itself was ready to go.

butter poached

Here we are again with butter-poached lobster.  These cooked at 140 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Essentially, all we’re doing is bringing this up to eating temperature.

I had to stop myself from eating them right then and there.  I cut each tail in half longways:

split the tails

Then plated them up in a lobstery-looking manner:

sorta lobster looking

Add the bisque and a dollop of crème fraîche and dinner is ready!

ready to eat

The price of these frozen tails worked out to about $24/lb compared to the $30/lb for the live ones.  However, the texture of the tail meat wasn’t as melt-in-your-mouth tender as the that from the more expensive live sort.  In the end, I think the higher priced stuff is a much better deal.  Not that these weren’t good, they just weren’t as good as the others.  It was a good comparison of live vs. frozen.

Naturally, we had some wine with dinner.  This time it was an award-winning 2007 Reserva Chardonnay from Viu Manent in the Valle de Casablanca of Chile.  The wine is fermented and aged for six months in French oak barrels.  It has some good citrus and pineapple notes up front, finishing with a wonderful bit of butterscotch.  Right out of the bottle, I thought this stuff was really great. The crispness and acidity were really wonderful against the richness of the bisque.

Unfortunately, the longer it stayed open, the less I liked it.  It was like the oak came in and totally stomped on the fruit. To me, this signals that is won’t age well even though the label says it can be cellared for up to two years.  I don’t think so, but for a mere $10 per bottle, I can’t complain too much.  Just drink up within 20 minutes of opening the bottle.

Unless the most glorious one decides she wants lobster again, this should close out the arthropod postings — at least for now.

This entry was posted in Meat, Recipes: Eats, Techniques, Water, Wine and tagged , by johngl. Bookmark the permalink.

About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits. Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.

2 thoughts on “Lobster Bisque

  1. Um, your lobster bisque looks a bit better than mine – but those tails are glorious!

    They look like the ones we got for V-Day at Sam’s Club – same price – each 1 pound tail cost $25. We aren’t huge fans of whole lobster!

    And I think I can drink wine in 20 minutes after opening!

    Hope you had a good weekend!

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