The original is a favourite dish of mine, presented here in a new context with new ingredients, but I do insist that you take the time to trim up the bean sprouts in the proper way, just as my mother would do.
For the sauce
- 1 tsp blachan (Malaysian shrimp paste)
- 250 ml coconut cream
- peanut oil, for frying
- 10 red Asian shallots, peeled and chopped, then ground to a paste
- 10 dried chillies, trimmed and deseeded, ground to a powder
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 3 tbsp salted soy bean, pureed
- 125 ml coconut milk
- 250 ml tamarind water (strained through 1 ½ tsp tamarind pulp)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar
For the lobster and egg
- 1-1½ kg lobster
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 100 g bean sprouts, topped and tailed (patience required)
- 1 bunch flowering garlic chives, trimmed of the tough roots and cut in half
- 3 eggs
- 2-3 limes, halved, to serve
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.
MAKE THE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Slightly flatten the blachan on a small baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes until fragrant and crumbly. Grind to a powder. Meanwhile pour the coconut cream into a pan over medium heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring. Keep stirring until the cream separates into oil and brown residue (the flavour changes as a result and the residue forms part of the sauce eventually). Adding more peanut oil to the separated coconut cream if required, cook the ground shallots, chillies and blachan for about 10 minutes (the raw smell should have mellowed and the mixture taste sweet). Add the brandy and cook until the raw alcohol smell has evaporated, then add the salted soy bean purée. Add the coconut milk and tamarind water. Season with the salt and sugar and check that it’s savoury but not overly sweet. Strain.
MAKE THE LOBSTER AND EGG
Cut the tail off the lobster. Leaving the shell on, cut the tail in half lengthways, then each half into quarters to give 8 segments. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a hot frying pan and fry the bean sprouts quickly until they start to wilt. Season with salt and set aside. Toast the flowering garlic chives in a hot dry pan until they become a more intense green, then add 1 teaspoon of oil and a little salt. Stir-fry until cooked and sweet tasting (this method takes away the grassy flavour of the chive). Beat the eggs together with some salt and white pepper, then pass them through a sieve. Brush a large non-stick pan with oil and put over medium–high heat. Pour the eggs in, swirling the pan to give an even, thin layer of egg. As soon as it is set, turn out onto a tray to cool. Cut into strips about 1cm (½ in) thick. Heat a frying pan to hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil and place the lobster into the pan, shell side down. Fry until the shell starts to turn red then turn the pieces onto the other shelled side. Fry until that side starts to turn red. Turn the heat down to medium–low and add the rest of the sauce base. Cover and steam the lobster for a few minutes until the meat is cooked.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH
Use a platter, as this is a celebration dish that should be shared and passed around the table. Transfer the lobster to the platter, arrange the bean sprouts, garlic chives and egg around the lobster pieces and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve with lime halves to add more acid if you like.
Recipe and image from Green Pickled Peaches, Chui Lee Luk (Hardie Grant Books, $59.95, pbk).