I spent many hours on a fishing boat yearning for a single silly lobster to walk into our nets. Without it, the whole scene, and a whole precious day, would be caput. Seriously, I was very close to complete desperation when a lobster finally arrived on the boat, to be followed shortly by another beautiful specimen. I was beside myself with excitement and looked like a bit of fool to my fellow fishermen, I’m sure of it.
- 1 onion (220 g), peeled and cut into quarters (190 g net)
- 2 celery sticks, cut into 4 cm long pieces
- 2 large fennel bulbs, sliced lengthways ½ cm thick, fronds kept for the salad (80 g net)
- 2 large live lobsters (1.5 kg gross)
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 400 g bunch of seedless red grapes
- 2 heads of chicory, sliced 1cm thick widthways (100 g net)
- 1 handful wild fennel sprigs, or the fronds from the fennel, or picked dill
- 25 g basil leaves
- 2¼ tbsp olive oil
- juice of ½ a lemon
- grated zest of ½ an orange
- 1 tsp sambuca or pastis
- 2 pinches of toasted aniseed
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.
Put a large pot of water on a high heat and add the onion, celery and 1 sliced fennel bulb. Once boiling, place the first lobster in the water. Allow the water to come back to the boil and cook for 4 minutes. Remove the lobster and repeat the process with the second lobster. Once the lobsters are slightly cooled, separate the claws from the body and set aside. Hold the head and twist the tail to remove, discarding the head. Take a large sharp knife, or a pair of scissors, and slice lengthwise down the middle of the body splitting the tails in half. Set aside.
Place a ridged grill pan on a high heat for 5 minutes. Turn your extraction fan on full and ventilate your kitchen as it will get a bit smoky.
Put the remaining fennel in a medium bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt and mix well. Cook the fennel on the hot grill pan for about 8 minutes, turning half way through, until the fennel is smoky, charred and slightly translucent.
Sprinkle the bunch of grapes with the other tablespoon of oil and a ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Place on the ridged grill pan for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the grapes are smoky and the skins begin to split. Set aside with the fennel.
Put the lobster tails, shell side down, on the hot grill along with the claws, for 4 minutes. Turn over and repeat for another 4 minutes. The flesh should cook through and come away from the shell. Crack the claws to release the meat and remove the flesh from the tails. Cut into 2 centimetre chunks.
Place the chicory, fennel fronds, basil and cooled fennel in a medium bowl. Using scissors, snip the grapes into bunches of 3 of 4. Set aside.
To make the dressing, place the olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, sambuka, aniseed and a ¼ of a teaspoon of salt in a bowl and mix.
Gently mix the fennel, grapes, lobster and leaves with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange the salad on a platter, finishing with some lobster and grapes on top. Drizzle with the last of the dressing and serve.
View all the recipes from Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast.