Lobster Thermindor is a classic of French fine dining. Inspired by the French settlement of Akaroa I visited in my tour of New Zealand’s South Island, this campfire version is a little bit more playful.
- 3 600-800 g green lobsters, halved lengthwise, cleaned
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 60 ml (¼ cup) cognac
- ¼ cup finely chopped French shallot
- 1 bunch tarragon
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- baguette slices, toasted, buttered, to serve
- wild fennel, to garnish
Enchriched béchamel sauce
- ½ brown onion
- 6 cloves
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 75 g butter
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 small fennel bulb, halved, very thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp wild fennel flowers (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Build a campfire and allow it to burn down to hot coals. Alternatively, heat a barbecue until medium-hot. Cook the lobsters over the coals or on a barbecue, cut-side up first, for 5-7 minutes each side until lightly cooked and the meat comes away from the shell easily. Remove the meat from the shells and cut it into large pieces.
To make the béchamel sauce, stud the onion with the cloves and add to the pan with the milk and bay leaves. Bring the milk to just below boiling point then remove from the heat and set aside for a few minutes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Once foaming, add the flour and stir for 2 minutes until the mixture resembles wet sand. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring until smooth and thickened. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat. Stir in the egg yolk and nutmeg to combine and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
Place the white wine, cognac, shallot and tarragon into a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to about 2 tbsp liquid. Discard the tarragon, then add the shallot mixture to the béchamel with the mustard and stir to combine. Fold through the lobster to combine.
Heat an overhead grill to high. Fill the lobster shells with the lobster Thermidor mixture and scatter with the parmesan. Place the lobster shells onto a large tray. Grill for 5 minutes until golden and heated through.
Meanwhile, toss the salad ingredients in a large bowl to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the lobsters with the salad and buttered bread. Garnish with wild fennel if desired.