72 Get your claws out

Si­mon Hop­kin­son of­fers up two lux­u­ri­ous lob­ster recipes from op­po­site sides of the globe

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Si­mon Hop­kin­son

Si­mon Hop­kin­son of­fers up two lux­u­ri­ous lob­ster recipes from op­po­site sides of the globe

THERE have been many dis­as­ter dishes in my cook­ing life— sev­eral, even. How­ever, one of the very worst was while stay­ing with friends in Cap Fer­ret 20 years ago. It ex­ists on the very south­west coast of France, about an hour’s drive south-west of Bordeaux. Viewed over a quiet oys­ter-perched bay on one side of le cap, one can clearly view the old town of Ar­ca­chon and on its ver­sus rears up the wild sea of the true At­lantic. With bi­valves on its tran­quil doorstep and a stair­case of waves on the other, it comes as no sur­prise that both shaggy-haired surfers and sybarites like it here. Es­sen­tially, c’est très chic ici.

One morn­ing, my friend Tom had de­cided to pur­chase from the fish mar­ket the big­gest lob­ster that, quite pos­si­bly, had ever been pot­ted in the wa­ters of Cap Fer­ret. Hand­some it most surely was, as it point­lessly thrashed its rub­ber-band-teth­ered, huge claws, while writhing in the stone kitchen sink, but as it mea­sured at least 2ft from tip of claw to fan of tail, there was no pot in the kitchen within which the beast could be ac­com­mo­dated. Boil­ing it whole seemed out of the ques­tion. There was, how­ever, a stout cleaver hang­ing from a nail in the wall of the kitchen.

Once the beast had been dis­patched in as hu­mane a way as pos­si­ble, the var­i­ous joints were ar­ranged in a deep tray and baked for a few min­utes in a hot oven un­til only just cooked; es­sen­tially, stiff­ened from the heat so as to aid the ex­trac­tion of the coral-coloured flesh from the car­case.

Once the heav­ily suc­cu­lent meat was set aside, said car­case was then bro­ken up, im­mersed in a flavour­some court-bouil­lon (an in­tense veg­etable broth, in essence), to­gether with toma­toes, saf­fron, white wine and Co­gnac, then sim­mered for about an hour, un­til fab­u­lously fra­grant. Us­ing this in­tense brew, the crusty old le­viathan was about to be­come lob­ster pi­laf.

A good work­man should never blame his tools (in­gre­di­ents, in this case), but I mis­er­ably failed, sim­ply be­cause I pur­chased a packet of cheap bas­mati rice; where were you, my beloved Tilda, when I needed you most?

Ac­tu­ally, I’m go­ing to blame the French here, as rice cook­ing has never been a big culi­nary deal for them. Let’s just say that it turned out as more of a lob­ster rice pud­ding than the fluffy and fra­grant pi­laf I had hoped for. De­li­cious savoury stodge, but stodge it most cer­tainly was. Heigh ho.

Off to Amer­ica and Rus­sia, now, with head held high with re­gard to these two lob­ster recipes of note. And, fur­ther­more, I think that Ja­son Lowe’s per­fect pic­tures are just fab­u­lous here.

Us­ing this in­tense brew, the crusty old Le­viathan was about to be­come lob­ster pi­laf

This lob­ster stew comes alive with a pinch of cayenne pep­per

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