Crispy Lobster Skewers with Green Papaya and Mint Salad
- 1 small coconut
- 6 (1-pound) lobster culls
- 2 tablespoons oil, plus 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 diced shallots
- 1 small fresh chile, seeds removed and diced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced thinly
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon Thai yellow or red curry paste, or 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 to 3 limes, juiced, plus the zest of 1 lime
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 cup water chestnut flour
- Peanut or corn oil, for frying
- 6 (10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes
- Green Papaya and Mint Salad, recipe follows
- Green Papaya and Mint Salad:
- 2 green papayas, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch wild mint, chopped
- 3 bunches Upland cress or 2 bunches watercress
- 1 daikon, julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 small cucumber, sliced thinly
- 12 scallions, cut into thin rounds
- Vinaigrette, recipe follows
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Nam Pla (Vietnamese fish sauce)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons oil of your choice
Put coconut into a plastic bag and drop the bag onto a hard surface to split the coconut and catch the liquid. Remove the outer shell and discard. Finely grate 1 cup of fresh coconut. Thinly shave the remaining coconut into moon shaped pieces. Toast shavings lightly and set aside for garnish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop live lobsters into a pot of boiling water and cook for only 5 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water and plunge them into a large bowl or pot filled with iced water to stop the cooking. The lobsters should be cooked early in the day so the lobsters have time to reabsorb their wonderful juices.
In a 2 quart saucepan, add the oil and butter. Remove the claws and tails from all the lobsters. Set aside. Remove the outer shell from 3 of the lobsters. Saute the 6 lobster bodies over medium high heat until a little bit colored. Leaving some of the shells on will give your sauce a pink cast.
Add the shallots, chile, and lemongrass. Cook gently until tender. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add grated coconut and ginger. Add enough cold water to barely cover the lobster bodies. Add curry paste or curry powder. Let sauce simmer slowly for 20 to 30 minutes until reduced, showing a little "body".
Remove claw meat from their shells. Split the tail, removing all the shell carefully from the tail, except the last segmet of shell connected to the actual tail flippers.
Skewer the 2 segments of the tail with 1 claw and 1 piece of scallion in between. You will have 6 skewers.
Beat the egg whites with the 2 tablespoons of cold water to thin out. Dip each skewer lightly into the egg white mixture. Very delicately, sprinkle water chestnut flour all over the lobster. Don't pack on too much.
Bring a large pot of peanut oil to 350 degrees. Fry 2 skewers at a time. They will only take approximately 2 to 3 minutes to crisp. Remove skewers from the oil and drain. Place in barely warm oven while the other skewers cook.
To serve, place finished skewers on plate with your delicate salad leaning against the lobster. Spoon the curried coconut sauce around the plate and garnish with toasted coconut "moons".Green Papaya and Mint Salad:
In a large bowl, assemble the salad, combining the green papayas, the mint, the Upland or watercress, daikon, carrot, cucumber, and scallions rounds. Dress salad with vinaigrette right before serving.
Yield: 6 servingsVinaigrette:
Yield: approximately 1/2 cup
Recipe courtesy Lydia Shire