Lobster with Ginger and Scallions
2 lobsters, each about 11⁄2 pounds
peanut or corn oil for deep-frying
3 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
3 ounces (85 grams) fresh ginger root,
peeled and cut into thin slices
10 to 12 large scallions, cut diagonally,
white and green parts separated
11⁄2 tablespoons Shaohsing wine or brandy
1⁄2 cup prime stock (see page 242)
For the sauce:
1 teaspoon potato flour
4 tablespoons water
1⁄2 tablespoon thin soy sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Serves 6 as a first course
The species of lobster found along the Chinese coast is the spiny lobster or
crayfish and, significantly, the Chinese name for it is dragon prawn. The meat,
compared to that of the true lobster, is slightly coarser, but cooking methods and
recipes are the same for both. Only fresh lobsters are fit for consumption; they
can be kept alive up to 3 days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
Prepare the sauce: Mix together the flour, water, soy sauce and oyster
sauce. Set aside.
Kill and chop up the lobsters. Before starting, make sure that strong rubber
bands are around the pincers. Lay the lobsters flat, one at a time, on a chopping
board, and steady them with one hand. Pierce the center of the head, where
there is a cross, with the pointed end of a strong knife, pressing firmly all the
way down in order to paralyze the nerve and hence kill the lobster instantly.
Split it in half along the back, all the way to the tail, cutting through both the
shell and the flesh. Remove and discard the pouch of grit from the head, as well
as the dark gut running along the body. Remove the tiny eggs, if any, and the
greenish creamy substance (tomalley), which can be cooked separately if you
like it. Twist the joints to dislodge the 2 claws from the body. Lay each half of
the body flat and, using a kitchen cleaver, chop each into 3 pieces. Remove the
gill from the head, close to the shell. Lay the claws on the board and bang them,
one by one, with either the broad side of the cleaver or a hammer until the shell
is cracked at various points so that it will not be necessary to use crackers when
eating them. Cut each claw in two at its obvious joint.
Put all the head and claw pieces into one large bowl and the body pieces
into another. Pat dry with paper towels.
Half fill a wok or deep fryer with oil. Heat to a temperature of 350°F (180°C),
or until a cube of stale bread browns in 60 seconds. Carefully lower all the head
and claw pieces into the oil and let them “go through the oil” for 20 to 30
seconds, so that their juices are sealed in. Remove immediately with a large hand
strainer and put on a large platter.
Reheat the oil and let the body pieces “go through the oil” for about 10 seconds.
Empty the oil into a container and save it for other purposes. Wash and dry the wok.