The sweet-tasting blue spiny lobster is the well-known star of this renowned Menorcan stew fit for kings.
- 2 800 g–1 kg (1 lb 12 oz–2 lb 3 oz) live or cooked lobsters
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- sea salt flakes
- ½ small red capsicum (bell pepper), finely diced
- ½ small green capsicum (bell pepper), finely diced
- 3 tomatoes, grated, skins discarded
- ½ tsp sweet pimentòn
- 80 ml (2¾ fl oz/⅓ cup) good-quality gin
- 2 litres (2 qts) good-quality fish stock
- freshly ground black pepper
- 200 g (7 oz) stale bread, cut into small chunks
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- pinch of sea salt flakes
- 35 g (1¼ oz) blanched almonds
- pinch of saffron
- 2 tbsp brandy
- zest of ¼ lemon
- juice of ½ lemon
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.
- If using live lobsters, use a very sharp knife to make a concise incision at the top of the neck and cut down through the head, cutting it in two. Twist and pull the head from the lobster and pull off the claws. Using a large serrated knife, cut the body crossways into 3–4 cm (1¼–1½ in) medallions. If using cooked lobster, remove the head and cut it in half lengthways, then continue to section the lobster as described above.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and gently sauté for 15 minutes or until the onion is completely soft. Add the capsicums and stir, then add the tomato and pimentòn. Cook, stirring frequently, for 20–25 minutes, until the liquid has all but evaporated and the tomato, onion and capsicum have reduced to a paste. Add the lobster heads, cut side down, and pour in the gin. Simmer until the gin has evaporated, then pour in the stock and simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
- Meanwhile, to make the picada, toast the bread in a frying pan with the oil over medium heat for 4–6 minutes, until crisp.
- Crush the garlic and salt using a mortar and pestle, then pound in the almonds, saffron and toasted bread. Stir in the brandy and lemon juice and zest. Set aside in a serving bowl.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it has reduced by half, then add the remaining lobster and continue to simmer for 5–7 minutes, until the lobster is cooked or heated through if using cooked lobster.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately garnished with plenty of black pepper and the picada on the side for spooning over.
Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99