Lobster with Fresh Grains and Aromatic Herbs
Elegant, unusual, and lovely -- Chef Francis Chaveau’s appetizer begins with a base of crunchy grains on which he arranges lobster which has been cooked in a court bouillon. He garnishes the plate with a tiny dice of fresh vegetables, flash-fried squash blooms and basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
- White Onion - 1, cut in half
- Carrot - 1, cut in chunks
- Celery Stalk - 1, cut in chunks
- Lobsters - 4, preferably blue lobsters, about 1 pound each
- Buckwheat (kasha) - 2 tablespoons
- Bulgur Wheat - 1/2 cup, crushed
- Tarragon Sprigs - 2, minced
- Parsley - 1/2 bunch, stemmed and minced
- Coriander - 2 sprigs, minced
- Chives - 1/2 bunch, minced
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 3/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Fresh Vegetable Garnish
- Tomato - 1, skinned
- Red Bell Pepper - 1/2, peeled, seeded, and deribbed
- Green Bell Pepper - 1/2, peeled, seeded, and deribbed
- Yellow Bell Pepper - 1/2, peeled, seeded, and deribbed
- Cucumber - 1/2, skinned and seeded
- Fennel bulb - 1/2
- Radishes - 3 to 4
- Nicoise olives - 1 ounce
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- Basil Sprigs - 4, or single large basil leaves
- Zucchini flowers
- Mint leaves - 3, minced
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
To prepare the lobsters: Set aside one half of the onion for the grains; cut the other half in thin slices. Put the onion, carrot, and celery in a large pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add the lobsters and cook 5 minutes. Remove the lobsters with tongs and drain. Let cool enough to handle. Twist off the tails and claws; crack the shells and remove the meat. Cut the tail meat into thin medallions. Keep the claw meat whole. Keep all the meat from each lobster separate; each serving will have all the meat from one lobster.
To prepare the grains: Rinse the Bulgur wheat with cool water and put it in a small heatproof bowl. Pour warm water over the wheat to cover. Let stand until the grains are puffed. Drain off any excess water. Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, reduce heat to medium, add the buckwheat, and cook until the grains burst. Cool, then strain. Mince the reserved onion half. Stir in 1 tablespoon warm water and add the Bulgur wheat, minced onion, tarragon, parsley, coriander, and chives. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil and stir into the grains. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make the vegetable garnish: Cut the following vegetables into small (1/4-inch) dice: tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, fennel bulb, radishes, and olives.
To prepare the fried garnishes: Heat the canola oil to 370 F in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan. Pat the basil sprigs and zucchini flowers absolutely dry. Put the sprigs in the hot oil, fry for 10 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain on paper towels. Fry the flowers one at a time, about 15 seconds per flower, just until the petals are crisped. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To serve: Toss the diced vegetables with lemon juice and olive oil. Place a 5- or 6-inch ring mold in the center of a serving plate and pack with the grain mixture. Make a circle of overlapping lobster tail medallions on the circle of grains, leaving room in the center of the circle for the knuckle meat and claws. Add the knuckle meat in the center and stand the two claws in the knuckle meat. Gently lift the ring; repeat with the other plates. Sprinkle the vegetable garnish around the grains on the plates. Drizzle with a little of the juice from the grains. Stand a fried squash bloom and sprig of basil in the center of each. Sprinkle a little of the minced mint around the grains on each plate and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.