Cooking lobster to make delicious, creamy bisque may seem intimidating. But have no fear! With this complete guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of preparing succulent lobster meat and transforming it into a mouthwatering bisque.
Selecting the Freshest Lobsters
The key to tantalizing bisque begins with the highest quality lobsters. When selecting lobsters, look for specimens that are lively and energetic. Avoid any that seem weak or lethargic. The shell should appear shiny and firm, without any nicks or cracks. Opt for lobsters that feel heavy for their size. This indicates a good amount of meat inside the shell.
Preparing the Lobster
Once you’ve chosen vibrant, healthy lobsters, it’s time to prepare them for cooking. Start by placing the lobsters in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to boiling. This puts them in a dormant state so they don’t suffer when cooked.
Next, fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobsters completely. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. This seasons the meat while also raising the boiling temperature to cook the lobster faster. Bring the water to a rapid boil.
Grasp each lobster from behind to avoid the claws. Plunge them headfirst into the boiling water. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 12 minutes for the first pound and 3 minutes for each additional pound thereafter. The shells will turn bright red when done.
Extracting the Meat
Remove the cooked lobsters from the pot and allow them to cool briefly until safe to handle. Twist and detach the tails, claws, and legs. Use scissors or lobster crackers to break through the shell. Extract the meat in chunks, taking care to remove any stray shell fragments.
Set aside the tail meat for adding to the finished bisque later. Chop the claw and leg meat into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate until needed.
Simmering the Shells
Now it’s time to start making that flavorful broth! Return the empty lobster shells to the pot along with vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. Add fresh herbs like thyme, parsley or tarragon. Pour in enough water to cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. The shells will impart intense lobster essence into the liquid as it simmers. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids.
Building the Bisque
In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in 4 tablespoons of flour and cook while whisking for 2 minutes. This makes a classic roux that will thicken the bisque.
Gradually whisk in 2 cups of heavy cream followed by 4 cups of the homemade lobster broth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil while stirring constantly. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Just before serving, add the reserved lobster tail meat and chopped claw/leg meat to the pot. Heat through until the lobster is warmed but not overcooked.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of brandy or cognac and a pinch of cayenne pepper for a hint of
Dig in and savor the fruits of your labor! This from-scratch lobster bisque is a creamy, soul-warming delight.
Tips for Delicious Lobster Bisque
Follow these tips and tricks to ensure lobster bisque success:
Use Fresh Ingredients
Quality ingredients make all the difference. Splurge on fresh live lobsters and avoid pre-cooked lobster meat. Use heavy cream, real butter, and homemade broth.
Cook the Lobster Properly
Perfectly cooked lobster is vital. Boil using the guidelines above so the meat is tender and sweet. Don’t overcook or the texture will be rubbery.
Make Your Own Stock
Simmering the shells creates an incredible base. Water or store-bought broth can’t compare to homemade lobster stock.
Don’t Skimp on Seasoning
This bisque requires generous seasoning. Add salt, pepper, herbs, brandy, and a pinch of cayenne. Adjust to suit your tastes.
Use a Roux
A roux of butter and flour gives the bisque body and richness. Whisk constantly when adding broth to prevent lumps.
Simmer, Don’t Boil
Once thickened, bisque should simmer gently, not boil. This prevents separating or curdling the cream.
Finish with Fresh Lobster
Warm the lobster meat at the very end to preserve moisture and texture. Never overcook the lobster.
Still have some questions about preparing perfect lobster bisque? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How much lobster do I need per serving?
Figure approximately 3-4 ounces of lobster meat per person. For 4 people, you’ll need 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 pounds of whole lobster.
Can I use frozen lobster tails?
It’s best to avoid frozen lobster. The texture and flavor will be inferior to fresh. If you must use frozen, thaw completely first.
Is sherry a good substitute for brandy?
Yes, dry sherry makes a fine brandy alternative. Use about 2 tablespoons when finishing the bisque.
How do I prevent the bisque from curdling?
Curdling happens if the cream boils or overheats. Keep the heat low and stir constantly after adding cream.
Can I prepare the bisque ahead of time?
Absolutely. Make the entire recipe up to adding the lobster, then cool, and refrigerate up to 2 days before reheating and finishing.
Satisfying and Sublime Lobster Bisque
With these helpful tips and easy-to-follow steps, making restaurant-quality lobster bisque at home is totally achievable. Be sure to select only the freshest lobsters for sweet, succulent meat. Harness the shells to make a super flavorful broth. Finish with a touch of brandy and velvety cream for a bisque that rivals the best.
Each satisfying spoonful will be rich, creamy and intensely lobster-y. Impress your guests and savor this sublime, elegant soup for any special occasion. You’ve got this! Now get cooking and delight in the joy of homemade lobster bisque.