Carpaccio of Lobster with Three Roes
While virtually unknown in the U.S., eating fresh lobster in its raw state is a common delicacy in Japan. Chef Wayne Nish utilizes the careful Japanese handling of the live, fresh lobster and pounds it lightly to tenderize the flesh, then seasons it with three roes -- sturgeon, cod, and sea urchin. He serves each tasting portion on a large shiso, or beefsteak, leaf (the herb is popular in Japanese cooking, and is related to mint and basil). Chef Nish twists the tails off live lobsters, instantly killing them in the process; we give other directions for killing them below if you do not wish to do this. Mentaiko, available in Asian markets, is cod roe cured in its sac with salt and chilies.
- Maine lobsters - two, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pound
- Shiso leaves - 8 (beefsteak leaves)
- Osetra caviar - 1 ounce
- Mentaiko (spicy preserved cod roe) - 1 piece
- Fresh Uni (California sea urchin roe) - 4 tongues, cut into 2 pieces each, making eight pieces
To kill the lobsters, pierce the head with the point of a sharp knife, cutting through the shell into the body. Twist the tail off each lobster, holding them over a bowl to catch the juices. Twist off the center tail flipper and pull it to remove the black strip. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut the bottom shell off each tail section and remove it, again holding it over the bowl to catch the juices. Place the juice in the refrigerator; it will jell. With a spoon, pry out the tail meat, scooping under the meat and breaking it away from the shell at each segment. Reserve the claws and bodies for another use.
Place the tails on a cutting board and cut each in half, then into two pieces, making a total of four pieces per tail. Place the pieces, one at a time, between two plastic sheets and pound lightly with a mallet or other blunt object until the lobster meat is spread into a thin layer between the plastic sheets. Pressing through the sheets, gather the meat back into one area, then place a 5-inch steel ring right on the plastic. Reach inside the ring and press the lobster out into a circle to fit the ring, pressing right through the plastic. Lift the ring. Gently open the plastic and lift the circle of translucent lobster meat; set aside, or place directly on a shiso leaf, as per the “to serve” instructions. Repeat with all lobster meat medallions.
To assemble and serve: On each of eight plates, place one shiso leaf. Place a pounded lobster circle on each leaf. Dipping your fingers into the reserved lobster juice, press the lobster into a disc shape about 2 inches wide. Form 8 small quenelles of the uni and place one quenelle of uni on each. Place an equal-size quenelle of caviar and mentaiko on each portion as well. Spoon a small amount of jellied lobster juice onto each finished carpaccio.