• Wok-fried lobster with ginger, shallot and cognac (Food Safari Water)Source: Food Safari Water

This lobster is deep-fried in oil first before being wok-tossed in stock, sugar and aromatics for a few minutes. A little potato starch will thicken the sauce and last but not least, cognac to cap off this dramatic dish. Food Safari Water






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  • 1 live lobster, about 800 g-1 kg
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 3 tbsp extra
  • ½ cup potato starch, plus 1 tbsp extra
  • 1 large knob of ginger peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 6 spring onions, cut into 4 cm batons
  • 80 ml ( cup) Shaoxing wine
  • 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 80 ml ( cup) oyster sauce
  • 1½ tbsp mushroom soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar syrup (or 1½ tbsp grated palm sugar)
  • 30 ml cognac 
  • Handful spring onion julienne, to serve

Cook's notes

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.


Chilling time: 1 hr

To dispatch the lobster humanely, place it in the freezer for 1 hour before cooking. Alternatively, chill the lobster in a large tub of icy slurry for 20-30 minutes. This sends the lobster into a sleepy hibernated state and will desensitize it.

Find the indentation in the head which is marked by a cross in the centre of the head. Pierce this spot with the tip of a strong sharp knife and drive through to dispatch the lobster. Cut the membrane which connects the tail to the body. Use a tea towel to grip the tail and gently twist and pry away the tail in one piece. Remove the intestinal tract. Chop the lobster into large bite-size pieces. Remove the gristly stomach sac and reserve the orange tomalley.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or deep-fryer over high heat until shimmering. Dust the lobster pieces in the ½ cup of potato starch and gently shake off the excess. Carefully lower the lobster pieces into the hot oil and fry for 1½-2 minutes or until crisp but not fully cooked through. Larger pieces will take longer.

Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the 60 ml (¼ cup) extra oil and the sliced ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the spring onion batons and cherry tomatoes, then the Shaoxing wine and chicken stock. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar syrup and bring to a simmer. Add the lobster pieces and toss to coat. Cover loosely with a lid or a second upturned wok and gently braise for about 1 minute. Mix together the extra tablespoon of potato starch with 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add enough of the slurry to the sauce to thicken it.

Add the tomalley and cook a further 30 seconds. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Add the cognac and stir through. Careful as the evaporating alcohol can catch and flame up.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve garnished with spring onion julienne.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Belinda So.

Maeve O'Meara is back in Food Safari Water airing 7.30pm Wednesday nights on SBS and then you can catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.