Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baby Got Bisque

Last time I made a dish with lobster, my friend, who hates having her name mentioned online so let's call her Aphrodite, suggested that I should keep the shells and boil them to create a lobster stock. Not a bad idea, Aphrodite.

Flash forward to today: a cold, rainy Seattle day. I knew I was going to spend two hours of it outside playing soccer, so the thought of coming home to a rich, warm soup held no small allure. Last evening, I'd served broiled lobster tail to a friend and had put the empty shells into the refrigerator. This morning, I put 10 cups of water and a bay leaf into a deep Magnalite kettle, brought it to a boil, dropped in the shells and covered the kettle. I reduced the heat and simmered them for five hours, reducing the total liquid volume by some two cups.

I had only two guests coming this evening so I reserved four cups of the broth and froze it.

Moving on, I set the remaining broth aside and diced finely two large shallots, bringing me to tears the likes of which I had never shed for any previous event in my life. Attention bioscience industry: invent a tear-free shallot. Thank you.

I put half a cup of butter in a large skillet, melted it and threw in the shallots. Once they were generally clear, I added eight tablespoons of whole wheat bread flour, whisking it for five minutes on medium heat. To this, I added two cups of half-and-half, stirring until it was significantly thickened. Next I added two cups of sherry (NOT cooking sherry) and stirred for 10 minutes. Finally I added four cups of lobster broth, stirring for 10 more minutes, on medium heat (maintaining a slight bubbling, nothing eventful).

Then I added a large true cod filet, in 1/2 inch cubes, and 1/2 pound of medium size shrimp. Finally, I added one tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning, whisked that in thoroughly, and let it cook very low temperature for 20 minutes.

At this point, it was ready to serve. As garnish, I briefly boiled a spiced crawfish and set it in the middle of the bowl of bisque, adding freshly chopped chives as an additional garnish. At table we had crusty French baguette and butter for dredging in the liquid.

There are easier soups to make, but Aphrodite was right -- few are as good as those made with a lobster broth. And fewer still are as richly rewarding as a seafood bisque as Massive Attack plays on the stereo and rain flicks at the windows.