Lobster for a lobster: Best recipes for your $20 indulgence
It has been hailed as the greatest chance in decades for the average Aussie to feast on lobster for Christmas or a summer BBQ, with prices falling to their lowest in decades and even supermarkets offloading the normally luxury priced crustaceans for as little as $20 a pop.
However the buzz surrounding an oversupply of both Western and Eastern Rock Lobsters - due to the pandemic and Australia's ongoing trade rift with China - does bring with it some caveats according to the experts who say buyers still need to do their homework.
Sydney Fish Markets spokesman Alex Stollznow said there is a vast disparity between prices of lobsters from east and Western Australia.
"The glut that we are seeing - the species that we see 95 per cent of is sold to China - is the small frozen, 300g western rock lobster which has been cooked and is thawed for convenience and they are the ones retailing for about $20 each," said Stollznow, adding that the larger ones, weighing in around 450g, are slightly higher at $32.
"But the interesting development for the more premium version, which is the live or fresh eastern rock lobsters, which are individually tagged with a serial number, they are now retailing for around $110 per kilo which is around 30 to 40 per cent lower than normal.
"And there are some places where they are retailing even lower at around $90 a kilo. Those are prices I haven't seen since the nineties."
He said while eastern rock lobsters are not traditionally an export species, the increase in western rock lobsters domestically has seen demand for the premium species soften.
"But one thing that is certain this year, in terms of consumers, is that this is going to the first Christmas for many Aussies that they will be eating them for the first time."
With cheap lobsters comes a unique kind of dilemma - how to make the most of each kind of species in the home kitchen.
Acclaimed French chef Guillaume Brahimi suggests eating fresh eastern rock lobster in its simplest form while thawed western lobster tails are ideal baked in the oven or cooked into a pasta dish.
"I think the best lobsters in the world are the local Pittwater lobster in Sydney which are an eastern rock lobster," he said.
"They have a lovely sweet briny flavour that only needs the most minimal preparation so I like to grill them on the BBQ with butter.
"It's also perfect in a salad and especially in summer you want to go with whatever is seasonal so things like mangoes and grapes are perfect
"For lobster that has been thawed, something like lobster mornay is perfect, I's a classic French dish with lots of butter and cream."
GUILLAUME BRAHIMI'S LOBSTER AND MANGO SALAD
1 Combine fresh endive and radicchio with chopped chives, olive oil and salt.
2 Top with sliced fresh mango and lobster medallions.
3 Finish with a squeeze of finger lime juice.
JORDAN TOFT'S SLOW-COOKED LOBSTER
• Southern Rock Lobster 1.2kg
• 50mls olive oil
• 1 shallot, finely sliced
• 20ml white wine vinegar
• 200mls 'orange' wine (white wine left on skins to develop tannins)
• 200g butter, cubed and cold
• ½ lemon, juiced
• Place live lobster into the freezer for 20mins to slow and sleep.
1 Prepare your coals and allow to slightly die down. Create a heat zone large enough to cook the two lobster halves.
2 Use a heavy and sharp knife, split the lobster length ways. Remove the entrails but leave the coral.
3 When the coals are ready lightly brush the flesh with olive oil and place the lobster, flesh side up, on the grill. It's important that the flesh never touches the grill. The idea is to grill the lobster through the shell over a long period. This sets the flesh but never over cooks it. It also allows for the shell lobster flavour to permeate up through. Lightly season the flesh with sea salt and apply a few more brushes of olive oil to keep moist during cooking. Approx. 30-40mins.
4 While the lobster is cooking, in a 2L sauce pan mix shallots, vinegar and wine, reserving 20mls of wine for later and reduce by half. On a low heat, add splash of cream and whisk in the cold cubes of butter, one by one until you have a rich and velvety butter sauce. Season with salt and finish with the remaining wine and squeeze of lemon. Reserve in a warm place.
5 The lobster is ready when evenly opaque or cook further to your liking.
6 Just before serving, remove meat from the shell and cut into even pieces. Place neatly back in the shell.
7 To serve place the entire lobster onto a serving platter and pour the butter sauce over the flesh and coral at table.
Combine 250ml milk, 3 bay leaves, one chopped onion and peppercorns in a small pan. Bring to the boil, then set aside for 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
2 Meanwhile, remove the meat from the cooked lobster and cut it into small, chunky pieces.
3 For the sauce, reheat the milk gently. Melt 20g of butter in another small pan, stir in the flour and cook for a few seconds. Strain in a little of the hot milk and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring now and then. You should be left with 200ml sauce with the consistency of thick cream.
4 While the sauce is simmering, melt the remaining butter in another small pan, add the shallots and cook gently until soft but not browned. Add the wine, turn up the heat and simmer rapidly until the liquid has almost disappeared. Stir in the white sauce, together with the mustard, tarragon, chives, cream (if using), cayenne pepper and 25g of the grated cheese.
5 Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
6 Stir the lobster meat into the sauce then divide the mixture equally between the cleaned half-shells. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, slide under the grill, then cook for 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbling.
7 Serve with new potatoes and a light, green salad.
Originally published as Lobster for a lobster: Best recipes for your $20 indulgence