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.
STEAMED LOBSTER WITH GARLIC GINGER-BASIL SAUCE
(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
- Fill a bowl with water and ice, set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt it.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.