Tempura of Keahole Baby Lobster
Maki sushi and tempura, both popular island dishes, are combined to make a crunchy, rich, yet tart appetizer. Japanese tobiko, caviar that has been flavored with pungent wasabi, is used to flavor the sauce. The baby keahole lobsters are soft-shelled and are used whole. Large shelled prawns may be substituted.
- Vinegared Rice
- Short-grain White Rice - 1 cup
- Plain rice wine vinegar - 1/4 cup
- Sugar - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Salt - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Water - 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
- Tempura Roll
- Lobster Meat - 1/4 cup, freshly cooked
- Mayonnaise - 1/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Fresh lime juice - 1 tablespoon
- Spicy Tobiko - 1 ounce
- Nori sheets - 2
- Shiso leaves - 16
- Keahole baby lobsters or large prawns - 16
- Wasabi Butter Sauce
- Canola oil - 1 teaspoon
- Shallot - 1/2, minced
- Bay Leaf - 1/2
- Wasabi Paste - 1 teaspoon
- Soy Sauce - 2 tablespoons
- Coconut Milk - 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick), cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- Wasabi Tobiko - 1 tablespoon
- Tempura Batter
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
- Cornstarch - 1/2 cup
- Egg - 1
- Ice Water - 1 cup
- Shichimi or Cayenne Pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Peanut Oil - 1/2 cup
- Carrot - 1, pared and cut lengthwise into thin strings
- Shiso leaves - 4
- Chives - 8, snipped
To prepare the rice: Wash the rice gently until the water runs clear. Let it drain for an hour. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar and stir over low heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Bring to a boil and let cool. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the rice and the water to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated and the rice is soft. Transfer the rice to a wooden bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Mix well without smashing the rice. Set aside at room temperature.
To make the tempura roll: In a small bowl, combine the lobster meat, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lime juice, and tobiko and mix well. Place one of the nori sheets, dull-side up, on a sushi mat or dish towel. Moisten your hands and spread half of the rice mixture evenly over the nori sheet. Place 8 of the shiso leaves in the center of the rice. Place half of the lobster mixture and half of the tobiko on the shiso. Kill the lobsters by inserting the point of a sharp knife into the back where the tail joins the body. If using prawns, completely shell them. Place 8 of the baby lobsters or prawns in the center of the roll and roll up tightly. Repeat to fill and roll the remaining nori sheet. Cut the rolls in half crosswise.
To make the sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and saute the shallot and bay leaf until the shallot is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wasabi paste, soy sauce, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and slowly whisk in the butter. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Stir the tobiko in gently. Set aside and keep warm.
To make the batter: In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. If the batter is too thick, add more ice water.
In a wok over medium-high heat, heat the oil until a drop of batter put in the oil sizzles. Dip the rolls in the batter and deep-fry until the batter is crisp and golden brown and the inside of the roll is still cool, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oil and drain well on paper towels. Slice each half into thirds.
To serve: Pool one-fourth of the sauce on each of 4 salad plats and place 3 slices of tempura on top. Garnish with carrot strings and a shiso leaf. Sprinkle with chives.