Following a weekend in Long Island surrounded by a wide array of delicious seafood: fish, shrimp, clams and mussels, I was inspired to try my hand at steaming lobster. I've been waiting for an opportune time to use a recipe from the cookbook, Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges, a very thoughtful birthday gift from my good friend Susan and her son, Benjamin.

There's an interesting story behind our friendship. Susan was my senior year high school teacher in northern California. At that time, I was struggling through a rough patch in my life when my parents were completely consumed with an emotionally-charged divorce. Neither parent spared my siblings and me the ugliness of their anger, and even though we were innocent bystanders, we were often used as punching bags for their frustration. It was a terribly confusing time for us. Throughout this period, Susan was a tremendous source of strength, compassion and inspiration. She saw in me the potential that I couldn't see in myself. Eventually I would be accepted to U.C. Berkeley with a full-scholarship, an accomplishment that I'm convinced would have never been achieved without Susan's support.

Susan and I continue to be close friends to this day.  And as it turns out, Susan moved to Manhattan three years ago, two years before I made it out here. We were probably destined to be good friends. She has an eight year-old son named Ben, and a three year old daughter named Jennifer, two wonderfully curious personalities. It's such a magical experience to see how quickly kids grow up.

This post is dedicated to Susan and Ben-nifer. Jean-Georges transforms the classic steamed lobster dish into a distinctly Asian fusion cuisine using a spicy and flavorful garlic, ginger and basil sauce. I've scaled this recipe to two servings, and substituted pea shoots with spinach leaves.

(adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten)

  • Two 1-1/2 pound lobsters, claws separated
  • 1/4 cup clarified unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup, fresh Thai basil, chopped
  • 4 cups, pea shoots (I used spinach)
  • 2 lemon wedges for serving
  1.  Fill a bowl with water and ice, set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt it. 
  2. Add the lobster claws to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to the ice water bath. When cool, remove the meat completely from the shells and set aside. Add the remaining lobster parts to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to the ice water bath.  When cool, remove the heads from the bodies. Split the tails lengthwise in half, keeping the shells on. (You can remove the vein from the tail if you like.)
  3. Prepare the sauce. Put the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and simmer, shaking the skillet occasionally, until golden brown, 3 minutes. Add the ginger, red pepper flakes, and salt, cook until fragrant. Add the basil and cook briefly, just until wilted. Remove from the heat. 
  4. Meanwhile, put the claws and tails in a large steamer. Top with pea shoots and a sprinkling of salt, and cook just until the lobster is heated through and the pea shoots are wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Mound the pea shoots in the middle of each serving plate and top with the lobster claw meat and tails. Spoon the sauce over the lobster and serve immediately, with the lemon wedges.
Serve with a side dish of rice.

Serves 2


KennyT said...

Susan is a great friend! I had similar childhood experience as you did, but luckily, my mother never gave us (me and my brother) up.

Oh, the pincers of the lobster is HUUUUUUUGE!!

Judy said...

Beautiful photos. My hubby would love this recipe. Lobster is one of his best faves.

High/Low said...

This looks absolutely delicious! I love lobster!

Margot said...

Oh Christine! How beautiful and delicious looking... lobster is one of my all time favorites. Where did you end up purchasing from? I haven't found too many places worth the price they charge here in the city.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Thanks Margot! I got these lobsters from The Lobster Place for $9.95 per pound. I have no idea what a good price is in this area, but in San Francisco Maine lobsters are selling for $18.95 per pound so this seems like a good deal.

HoustonWok said...

Hi new to the blog, love it, great case of photo journalism here, although I must say, the lobster looks much better cooked, thanks for the recipe.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Yes, those pincers are huge! And it's much easier to embrace the lobster when it is cooked.

Chow and Chatter said...

oh what a lovely post and great eats

Amanda said...

Those lobsters look amazing, although after all these years of cooking I still cringe when I must "do the deed."

I currently live in San Francisco but hail from Connecticut, and I really miss the change of seasons. Come January, not so much.

Your photos are great, just stumbled onto your blog...

Fresh Local and Best said...

Amanda, welcome to this blog! I miss San Francisco dearly!

Simply Life said...

WOW, my mouth is watering. This looks amazing!!!

Pam said...

Amazing! I would love, love, love this meal.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Thanks Simply Life and Pam for those kind comments!

Cathy said...

Oh my, this looks so good. We don't see much lobster here on the west coast. What a luxury.

Fresh Local and Best said...


It's one of the few things I have found cheaper here in Manhattan than in San Francisco. We're closer to Maine and so the lobster costs half as much!


Anonymous said...

a wonderful recipe! why don't I eat lobster more often? Beautiful photos!

Diana Bauman said...

I loved this post! It was so encouraging to hear the story about Susan as I am not teaching myself. It allows me to see to spend time with each student and encourage them along the way. And the lobster looks amazing!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Thanks Diana! I remember most if not all of my teachers. I have special memories of all of them!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Beautiful story and lovely recipes!

Debinhawaii said...

So nice to have a good friend who is there for you when you need them.

That lobster looks delicious and the sauce sounds amazing!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Thanks Mardi and Deb! I've been very lucky in life to have been blessed with great friends and a wonderful life partner!