- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Challenging
- Cost: Splurge
- Favorited: 3 Times
In the summer, I run with the crowd when it comes to lobster—steamed or grilled, with lots of butter and lemon—but during the rest of the year I’m open to alternatives. A salade composée, the French term for a cold salad plate in which several distinct elements are prepared separately then assembled for the finished dish, is a perfect technique for lobster. Lime vinaigrette lightly dresses the lobster without overwhelming it. The other ingredients maintain a complementary yet respectful distance.
- Kosher salt
- Two 1- to 1½-pound lobsters (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon minced shallots
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Pernod
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 blood oranges, skin and membrane removed, cut into segments over a bowl and stored in their own juice (use other sweet oranges if blood oranges are unavailable)
- ½ pound fingerling or small Red Bliss potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 12 cherry tomatoes or other small sweet tomatoes, cut in half
- 4 small bunches small greens such as watercress or mâche, washed and dried
- 1 lime, sliced into 4 wedges
1. Pour 1 inch of salted water into a large pot, invert a colander in the pot, and bring to a boil. Put the lobsters in the pot and cover tightly. Steam for 5 minutes, then open the pot carefully (steam is hot) and, using a pair of tongs, change the lobsters’ position so they will cook evenly. Quickly replace the lid and steam for 5 more minutes. Remove the lobsters from the pot and allow to cool.
2. Separate the tail, claws, and knuckles from the body of each lobster. Save the bodies for lobster stock or discard. Remove the lobster meat from the shells, trying to keep it in as large pieces as possible. (Shells don’t provide as much flavor for stock as lobster bodies, so I discard them.) Cut the shelled tails in half lengthwise and remove the digestive tract, the dark vein-like structure. Cover and refrigerate the meat.
3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and the Dijon mustard together in a small bowl. Slowly add ¼ cup of the olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt.
4. Mix the crème fraîche with the lime zest, 1 tablespoon of the limejuice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
5. Mix the Pernod with the honey and pour over the blood orange sections. Let sit for 30 minutes.
6. While the blood oranges are soaking, cut the potatoes into ½-inch-thickslices. Put the slices in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1½ teaspoons salt per quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are just done, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the lime vinaigrette and set aside to cool at room temperature.
7. Mix the chopped tarragon, chervil, and chives together.
8. Right before serving, toss the lobster meat in a bowl with the remaining vinaigrette and 5 tablespoons of the herbs. Mix the potatoes with the remaining chopped herbs. Put 2 tablespoons of the crème fraîche in the center of each off our plates. Overlap the potato slices in a ring on the crème fraîche, Arrange the meat from half a lobster on top of each portion of potatoes—start with the knuckles, then the tail and then the claw (reserve the remaining vinaigrette in the bowl). Form a crescent of 6 tomato halves on one side of the lobster on each plate.
9. Toss the watercress with the lime vinaigrette left in the lobster bowl. Place a bunch of dressed greens on each plate on the side of the lobster opposite the tomatoes. Distribute the orange segments around the edges of the plates and drizzle with any remaining syrup. Garnish each plate with a wedge of lime, and serve.
The recipe can be prepared a day ahead up through Step 4. If you’re making this salad with the intention of having leftovers, don’t dress what you won’t serve.
Lobster — Hard or Soft Shell
I’ve suggested variability in the size of the lobsters in order to accommodate different pocketbooks and different times of the year when you might prepare this dish. If you’re shopping in the late spring or fall, you’ll find hard-shell lobsters are what’s primarily available. In July, August, and September, molting season, soft-shell lobsters will dominate. January, February, and March see only hard-shells. The meat of a recently molted lobster is particularly sweet to some people, but by comparison to a hard-shell lobster of the same weight, there seems to be quite a bit less of it. In order to accomplish the Houdini-like feat of shedding their shells, lobsters shrink their bodies, especially their claws, through dehydration. A 1-pound hard-shell lobster will yield between 3 and 3¾ ounces of meat from the claws, knuckles, and tail; a soft-shell lobster of the same size will produce 2½ to 2¾ ounces. During months when soft-shells are primarily available, you will need to-buy larger lobsters to get the same amount of meat you would from smaller hard-shells. If you want to be sure you’re getting a hard-shell lobster, ask to squeeze it. Soft-shells have some give; they’re flexible. Hard-shells are rigid, and the lobster will feel heavier than other lobsters of similar appearance.
© 2002 Jody Adams and Ken Rivard
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving, and includes two 1 lb lobsters.