Chefs' Recipes

Lobster Australienne by Mary's Underground

This decadent dish from the Sydney basement restaurant combines fine French technique with an Aussie attitude.

By Jimmy Garside & Joel Wootten
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 3 hrs 30 mins cooking (plus drying, chilling, cooling)
  • Serves 4 - 6
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The lobster bisque makes more than you need but the remainder can be frozen for another use.
Check out our review of Mary's Underground.

Ingredients

  • 2 live Australian eastern rock lobsters (800gm-900gm each)
  • 100 gm butter, diced, at room temperature
  • 2-3 dried kutjera (see note), crushed
  • ½ tsp ground anise myrtle (see note)
  • 2 lemons, halved, for squeezing
  • Torn or finely chopped herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil and tarragon, to serve
  • Watercress dressed with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Lobster bisque
  • 2 kg prawn shells or extra cleaned lobster shells or both (see note), crushed with a rolling pin
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 large golden shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 125 ml dry white wine
  • 35 ml gin
  • 1 heaped tsp ground kutjera (see note), plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp ground anise myrtle (see note)
  • 3 tsp Geraldton wax leaves (see note)
Duck-fat chips
  • 1 kg royal blue or sebago potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm-thick chips
  • 1 kg duck fat

Method

  • 1
    For lobster bisque, preheat oven to 180°C. Roast prawn and lobster shells until fragrant and bright red (15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, heat a stockpot over medium-high heat, add 60ml oil, celery, carrot, onion and garlic and stir occasionally until golden (5-6 minutes). Add roasted shells and enough water to cover (about 3 litres). Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until stock is well flavoured (1½ hours). Strain stock, then transfer to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half (30-35 minutes).
  • 2
    Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add shallot and fennel and stir occasionally, without colouring, until softened and fragrant (5-6 minutes). Add wine and simmer until reduced by half (3-5 minutes), then add 25ml gin and reduce until evaporated (3-5 minutes). Add stock, spices and Geraldton wax, bring to a simmer and reduce by half (20-30 minutes). Cool briefly, then blend in a blender on high speed until smooth.
  • 3
    For duck-fat chips, place potatoes in a saucepan, rinse once, then cover with water and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Drain and steam dry (1 minute), then transfer chips to a tray lined with a tea towel to dry completely (10 minutes). Heat duck fat to 120°C in a deep-fryer and blanch chips without colouring (5 minutes). Remove from fryer (reserve duck fat), drain on paper towels, cool, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours to dry.
  • 4
    Place lobsters in freezer to render insensible, then split through the head with a large sturdy knife (see cook's notes). Boil lobsters in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until bright red (90 seconds). Remove and refresh in iced water to cool (5 minutes). Drain, then halve lengthways and remove digestive track. Gently remove tail meat from shells, spoon head coral into a small bowl and coarsely chop meat into 2cm pieces. Return shells to boiling water until cooked through (1-2 minutes). Drain and reserve.
  • 5
    Preheat oven to 150°C. Place a large frying pan over medium heat, add 200ml lobster bisque and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and, while whisking, add butter a piece or two at a time, until emulsified into a sauce. Add kutjera and anise myrtle and season to taste. Fold through lobster meat until just cooked (3-5 minutes), then fold in head coral (be careful not to boil it). Add remaining gin, squeeze in lemon to taste, and season to taste.
  • 6
    Reheat duck fat in deep-fryer to 180°C. Fry chips in batches until golden and crisp (4-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on paper towels and season to taste.
  • 7
    Warm lobster shells in oven, then transfer to large serving plates. Spoon lobster mixture into shells, sprinkle with a pinch of kutjera and top with herbs. Serve with chips and watercress salad.

Notes

Dried and ground kutjera, anise myrtle and Geraldton wax leaves are available from native produce suppliers such as outbackchef.com.au. Ask for fresh and clean lobster shells, and remove the head from shells before cooking.RSPCA Australia's advice for killing crustaceans humanely is to render them insensible by placing them in the freezer (under 4°C) until the tail or outer mouth parts can be moved without resistance; crustaceans must then be killed quickly by cutting through the centreline of the head and thorax. For crabs, insert a knife into the head. This process destroys the nerve centres of the animal.