Friday, December 21, 2012

Classic Lobster Bisque – Finally!

I usually don’t have a good answer for why I’ve not gotten around to filming certain iconic dishes like risotto, beef Wellington, and puff pastry; but when it comes to lobster bisque, I do have a great excuse.

I won’t bore you with the details of how the tradition started (translation: I don’t remember), but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always made lobster bisque on Christmas Eve, to celebrate my sister-in-law Jennifer’s birthday.

And since the few days leading up to Christmas are always so busy and hectic with shopping, cooking, and travel, I’ve just never felt like I’ve had the time to set up the camera to properly film the procedure. Well, this year I decided to give it a go, and despite all the aforementioned challenges, I was very happy with how this came out.

One word of warning: this recipe requires live lobsters, brandy, and heavy cream. If you can’t get, or don’t want to use those ingredients, then you’ll have to make something else. Sorry, but this recipe is too sacred for substitutions.

Speaking of live lobsters, I know many are skeptical that these “bugs” can actually feel pain, but to play it safe, I recommend putting them in the freezer for 20 or 30 minutes to knock them out cold before their ultimate demise.

I only showed the cracking and the picking of the lobster meat very briefly, as this video was already too long for my tastes, but below I’ll link an additional tutorial that show this in more detail. Yes, this soup takes a little bit of work and expense, but I think you’ll agree with me (and Jennifer) that all the effort is well worth it. Enjoy!




Makes about 1 1/2 quarts:
2 live lobsters (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
1 onion, chopped
2 rib celery, chopped
3 quarts cold water (this will reduce by about half during the entire cooking process)
3 cloves garlic
4 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
1/3 cup white long grain rice
2 tbsp cheap brandy (inexpensive brandy tends to be a little sweeter, and works well here)
1/2 cup heavy cream, or more if you like it creamier
salt and cayenne to taste
1 tbsp chopped tarragon to garnish

Bonus Lobster Meat Recovery Video: 
This video shows the picking of the lobster meat in much more detail than I did. Since they are boiling the lobster, you can just skip to the part where he is liberating all the meat. For more general lobster info, you can also check out this page on Allrecipes.

46 comments:

Foodfanataholic said...

Thank you chef John for another great recipe.

Written procedure as promised:


Take the whole lobster and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Place a large sharp knife into the head and split the lobster down the middle.

Remove the stomach sac from both sides. Cut off the tail, claws, and legs. Crack the claws and the knuckles by putting a towel over them and hitting with a knife or meat mallet.

Place the pieces of lobster into a large baking pan with the celery and onion and bake in a 400 F. preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until nicely roasted and the lobster has turned pink.

Remove the tails, and place into a large (6 quart) stockpot. Add a little water to the roasting pan and over medium - high heat, deglaze the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Add the liquid to the stockpot. Add enough water to make a total of three quarts of liquid. Add the garlic, fresh thyme, and a bay leaf and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. This will take a few minutes.
In the meantime, remove the meat from the four pieces of lobster tails, place in a dish, cover with Saran Wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Add the empty tails back into the stock pot. When it starts to simmer, put the heat back to low, and gently simmer for another 40 minutes.

Place a colander over a bowl and remove all the lobster, veggies into the strainer. Strain the liquid and place the liquid and what're liquid you catch in the bowl back into the stick pot again.
When it's cool enough to handle, remove all the meat from remaining lobster pieces. Put in a bowl cover and refrigerate.

Add the one cup of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and paprika. Stir; bring back up to a simmer over medium-high heat. When it returns to a simmer, add the rice and lower the heat to low; cook for about another 30 minutes until the rice becomes mushy.

Turn off the heat and blend until completely smooth with an immersion blender. Add the brandy, heavy cream, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Return to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently with a spatula to prevent scorching, for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove the lobster meat from the refrigerator and chop into small pieces; add to the soup. Heat for about another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a little additional heavy cream (swirl it) a little cayenne and a bit of fresh tarragon.

Enjoy!

Chef John said...

Nice job, thanks!

Foodfanataholic said...

Thank you :) I do this with a lot of your recipes. From now on, I'll send them along. Have a wonderful holiday :)

Thom said...

I swore I would never make Lobster Bisque again after attempting a laborious and expensive recipe a couple years ago. This recipe breaks it down very nicely, and, is inspiration enough to give it another go.

One question; do you discard the celery and onion or include it back into the broth...or does it matter?

Thank you Chef!

Food Junkie said...

I have never been all that crazy about the idea of lobster bisque. Your video is making me rethink that, especially since the best lobster in the world are caught right here in maritime Canada. If I promise to give this a try could we get a bouillabaisse recipe?

Matías Guzmán said...

May I not use the intestines... they look gross..s

:) said...

I once had lobster bisque from the real Soup Nazi! It was like $20 for a cup, and we waited in line for over an hour, but damn it was delish. ;)

Jess M said...

Have you found any difference in meat texture between the two lobster prep methods?

Chibby said...

ohhhhh,this is so naughty,must try try it on New Years or something

Judy said...

Foodfanataholic!! Thanks for the transcription! I am sure many people would love for you to link any you do! :)

Chef, I have never eaten lobster (I eat very little seafood--just not a big fan) but that looks pretty tasty :) I worked in the seafood department of a grocery store many years ago, and we had to steam the live lobsters for people sometimes. They do make a weird noise (some people say that is just steam escaping or something, tho) when you cook em. I hope folks are right that they don't feel pain, but I like your humane way of numbing them first ;)

Chef John said...

The other method is for prepping to only eat the meat. This method is specifically for soup so it's apples and oranges.

Cristopher said...

In all my long years (okay, 42), I've never had the courage and occasion to try live lobster. Today was the day! My family gathered for Christmas and we all loved this! (except the 11 year old, and his great-grandmother ate his bowl in addition to hers.)

Bravo, Chef John!

Chef John said...

Thanks! Happy holidays!

Unknown said...

Nice video chef. I'm excited to try using rice in my bisque instead of a roux.

I've been watching your videos for about four years now, and have learned so much from watching you cook! Thanks for your blog and keep up the good work.

Cruz said...

Hi Chef! Could you do a video of how to make Chicken Liver Pate please? :) It's a really good dish and I want to learn it. It would be a great help! :)

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hi Chef,

Thanks for the lobster recipe.

And I only thought that the only way to eat lobster was to cut the tail in cubes, wrap a greasy strip of bacon from out of a can around each cube, pierce it with a tooth-pick and grill it with loads of butter and garlic.

Incidentally my preferred method for separating the head from the tail as shown on the bonus video was not to twist and rip, but to simply slide a sharp blade underneath the topside of the head.

It was easier on the hands and the tail was sure to easily separate intact with little fuss. At least that's how it worked for me after free-diving for spiny tail lobster.

And it also goes without saying that removing the intestines simply involved breaking off a tip of one of the barbed feelers, inserting and then extracting.

Thanks!

Planet said...

My wife always try to make lobster bisque but every time she cant satisfied with her self. After reading your suggestion she is reboot again to make this

Unknown said...

Many thanks to Foodfanataholic for adding the directions! I love the videos and would love to see the blog support recipe captures through apps like Paprika. Thanks for the great recipe (we tried it on Christmas Eve with success) and happy holidays.

Bobby said...

I'm making this tomorrow, but when you say "add whipped cream" for garnish, do you mean just whipped cream, or whipped cream (like with vanilla and sugar)?
Thanks! I don't want to F this recipe up just for a dumb mistake like adding the wrong kind of cream.

Chef John said...

No sugar and vanilla! :) Just plain heavy cream.

Bill Havers said...

Great recipe Chef John. However, I did a search for Lobster Bisque and this recipe did not show up. Maybe you need to add a tag ?

HoustonFoodinista said...

I made your recipe exactly as scripted yet mine came out soupy. I don't know where I went wrong :-(

Chef John said...

soupy?

HoustonFoodinista said...

Sorry for the poor description lol. But it was the texture of a bisque. It came out on the " watery" side. My boyfriend and I tried our best to doctor it but couldn't. We're thinking maybe because we used a blender blender instead of the hand one or what. We're determined to try it again to get it right :-) we love your recipes!

Jake said...

i am going to try the recipe and was wondering what to do if it does come out watery as the last poster mentioned?

Chef John said...

If you do as the video shows with the right amounts and reduce the stock by half as directed it will look exactly like mine. They did not reduce it enough. But generally if u want something thicker just keep simmering!

Dano said...

Chef John, this is one of my favorite videos of yours to watch, lobster prep is mesmerizing in a weird way.

I wanted your opinion on something please: up until the point where you added the rice, this recipe almost looks like it could easily become lobster pasta sauce, with just a few minor changes. What do you think?

Chef John said...

sounds good to me!

Caper said...

I'm from cape breton nova scotia, and love the web site. To cook a perfect lobster is to use fresh salt water from the ocean, and only need a couple of inches there's no other way. The he cleaned the lobster is to wasteful and to much labour.

Caper said...

Love the site. I'm from cape breton nova scotia, and the best way to cook a lobster is to use fresh salt water from the ocean. Only need a couple of inches there's no other way. The he cleans the lobster is to wasteful, and to much labour.

Caper said...

Love the site. I'm from cape breton nova scotia, and the best way to cook a lobster is to use fresh salt water from the ocean. Only need a couple of inches there's no other way. The he cleans the lobster is to wasteful, and to much labour.

Anthony Quilici said...

If I wanted to double this receipt, would I have to double the simmer times for it to reduce properly?

Chef John said...

Maybe, but forget about time...just reduce until it's how you want!

Chase Buscemi said...

i would like to make this for x-mss thing is i have 20 guest, i would have to quadruple the recipe,do i just add 4 times the amount of each ingredient? any tips or advice will be greatly appreciated! thank you!

Chase Buscemi said...

i would love to make this for x-mss thing is i have 20 guest, and i probably have to quadruple the recipe,
would i just add 4 times the ingredients to the recipe?any tips or advice help be much appreciated! thank u!

Cookies said...

Hi, I'd like to make lobster bisque for Valentine's Day this year. I was hoping to find a recipe that was more on the creamy side, and less on the red, "tomato-y" looking side. I've had great success with Chef John's soup recipes before, but this recipe seems like it would be strongly tomato flavored. Can you suggest any alterations to the recipe? Thank you!

Chef John said...

Just leave out tomato paste!

Cookies said...

Hi Chef John,

I made this soup for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day, and he absolutely loved it! You're my hero!!! Thank you!!!

Billy Rodriguez said...

Can good brandy be used if you already have it on hand, or will it throw off the flavor?

Chef John said...

Many use brandy. It's a matter of taste!

TomR said...

Can it be frozen

TomR said...

Hi Chef
Can this be frozen

TomR said...

can it be frozen

Chef John said...

I've never tried! But probably, as long as you reheat slowly.

Asif said...

How much does this make? How many can this serve? Thanks!

Chef John said...

About 4 large portions