This is a great way to make expensive rock lobster go a long way. You can buy deep-fried garlic and shallots in Asian grocery stores, but you'll get an innitely better result if you make your own: simply deep-fry them for a few minutes in hot vegetable oil until they turn golden, stirring with a spider to ensure they colour evenly, then drain on paper towel. Pomelo is a large thick-skinned citrus fruit; if unavailable, use green mango. To segment pomelo, use a small sharp knife to remove the skin, then cut down either side of the white membranes to release the segments. David Thompson always explains at his classes that a Thai dish such as this would traditionally be served at the same time as a number of other dishes - a curry, a stir-fry and a soup, for example - along with steamed jasmine rice.
- 1 live rock lobster (1kg)
- 8 large pomelo segments, broken into small pieces
- 4 stalks lemongrass, white part only, very finely chopped
- 4 red shallots, sliced
- 1 large handful mint leaves
- 1 large handful coriander leaves
- 8 red shallots (extra), thinly sliced and deep-fried
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and deep-fried
- 4 coriander roots, scraped
- 1 large red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped
- A few “scud” chillies (see note)
- 3-4 tbsp caster sugar, to taste
- 2/3 cup strained lime juice, more or less, to taste (160 ml)
- 4 tbsp fish sauce, more or less, to taste
- 1Place the rock lobster in the freezer for 30-60 minutes until insensible.
- 2Meanwhile, to make the Thai dressing, place the coriander root, large chilli, scuds and a good pinch of sea salt flakes in a mortar and pound with a pestle until quite fine. Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce and stir until dissolved. Taste: it should be spicy, sour, salty and sweet; adjust if need be.
- 3Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the chilled rock lobster and cover to return to the boil as quickly as possible. Cook for 8 minutes from the time it returns to the boil, then plunge it into iced water.
- 4Remove the meat from the shell and cut it into 1cm-thick slices. Combine the rock lobster, pomelo, lemongrass, sliced shallots, mint and coriander and toss with the Thai dressing. Serve sprinkled with the deep-fried shallots and garlic.
Note David Thompson coined the term "scuds" to describe the fiercely hot tiny Thai chillies in the early 1990s, when scud missiles were being used in the Gulf conflict - implying that the use of these chillies can be almost as destructive. It's caught on and now many people are referring to them by this name. They're available in Chinatown and Asian grocery stores, where they may be sold by their Thai name, prik kii nuu suan ("mouse-dropping chillies"). This recipe was published in the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook ($49.99, hbk, Penguin Lantern) by Roberta Muir and has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.