Southern Angola, early nineties...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quick and Easy Lobster Curry

I have no idea how much lobster costs in UK but like everything there, I guess it is pretty expensive and not everyone has the opportunity save a few pennies by going out and catching a pot full every time they need some.  In Luanda, whole lobster sells for about $15 a kilo which strikes me as pretty bloody eye-watering if all you’re going to eat is the tail, which is all most people seem to want.  Our lobsters here are crayfish really, as they do not have claws but everyone calls them lobster.

I do like lobster; simply done in boiling water then chopped up into a salad or butterflied and then grilled with plenty of butter.  I especially like it, however, when made as a curry.

This curry is relatively quick and easy to make and uses easy to find ingredients, many of them (shock, horror!) in tins.

First, get yourself a few lobsters…

That should be enough to start with...
Fill a big pan up with very slightly salted water, add chopped fresh coriander stems and bring it up to the boil.

Some people are squeamish about giving lobster a final very hot bath so if you are one of them, buy frozen lobster and leave the guilt to someone else.  If you have live ones, you can always pop them in the freezer for a while which numbs them.  The trick is not to overload the pot, if you do the temperature of the water falls rapidly and this not only spoils the flesh, it could lead to the appetite busting sight of a lobster thrashing about screaming for Radox bath salts.

While you are busy dropping lobsters in a pot and fishing them out once they are pink (five minutes or so) finely chop up a few onions (one small one per lobster) and fry them off in some oil in a heavy based pan until they are translucent, not brown. 

Add a generous table spoon of Garam Masala and stir that in before adding a couple of tins of skinned tomatoes and mash them around to pulp them up a bit.  By now the lobsters should all have been boiled so take a couple of cups of the water and pour that into the onion/tomato mix and give it a stir.  Keep an eye on it so it does not burn adding a little more lobster water as required.  At this stage I usually add chopped fresh pineapple but this is entirely optional.  If you want your curry spicy though, this is the time to add fresh or dried chilli.  I have a four year old who shouldn’t really eat spicy food so even though I like my curries with a heat rating of ‘Burning Bum By Morning’, I have to make do with mild for the time being.

Cooking with Gas!  Steaming nicely.  Note the shitty little stove I survive with at the moment
This is what the sauce should look like with the addition of a little of the water in which the lobsters were boiled

Rip the tails off the lobsters and split them open straight down the back.  Peel out the flesh and remove the vein.  Throw the heads back into the boiling water.  Chop up the lobster tails into bite sized chunks and put them to one side.

Five lobster tails, a pot of Coconut milk, a wooden cutting board and a sharp knife.  What else can I say about this photo?

Lobster bodies thrown back into the water to make a lovely stock

At this stage I usually pause to choke down a cigarette and moisten my tonsils with amber nectar to give time for all the flavour from the lobster bodies to infuse.

Ladle out about a litre of the infused lobster water into the onion/tomato mix and give the mixture a stir to incorporate it.  This now needs to reduce which will allow further time for salad preparation, another quick shmoke and a slug of something nice.  Put a litre of fresh, very slightly salted water into a pan and set that on the heat.  This will be for the rice.
Little Alex just can't resist testing the reduction.  He is my finest critic (out of the mouths of babes and all that), and he is certainly not verbose limiting his reviews to just 'YUCK!' or, 'MMM. NICE DADDY!'.  Today I was a nice Daddy.
Very finely chop an onion and a couple of garlic cloves and sweat them off with a bay leaf in a few tablespoons of oil in a heavy based pan (one that has a lid).  When the onions are soft, add two mug fulls of rice and stir the rice around so it does not stick.  You want to coat all the rice grains with oil.  Then add the boiling water and give the rice one more gentle stir to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Allow the rice to come to the boil, turn the heat down low and put the lid on the pan.

By now the onion tomato mix should be reducing nicely.  It needs to reduce until you can draw a path through it with a wooden spoon so that the bottom of the pan is briefly exposed.  The mixture should be loose but not liquid. 

Doesn't take long to reduce so keep an eye on it.  If you burn it, you have to go straight to jail, not pass Go and not collect 200 Quid...

Add the chopped lobster, chopped fresh coriander leaves, stir it up and then add half a can of coconut cream.  Allow this to come to a simmer on a low heat, check seasoning.  You shouldn't really need salt as there was salt in the lobster water (unless you are cooking for Angolans who consume enough salt with every meal to preserve a ham) then bung the lid on and turn the heat off.

Note, we haven’t bothered to even check the rice, let alone stir it. Have a look at the pan, if there is still lots of steam escaping out from under the lid, there is still water in there.  When the steam output starts to reduce (about ten minutes after first pouring the boiling water in) lift the lid off the rice pan.  What we want to see is no water, instead little craters in the rice surface where the water has boiled through.  If the pan is still steaming slightly, it will not have burnt.  Turn the heat off, leave the lid on the pan and relax for ten minutes (or lay the table if the Maidling is already off duty).

Garnish the curry with a little more fresh coriander and serve.
Some decent sized (20-25 Kg) Kingfish we caught earlier.  I'll get round to doing some nice recipes with these later.  Honest!
While I was rattling the pans, the monkeys were hooting at each other in the jungle not 50 yards from the kitchen door.  Must have been the smell of the cooking. Sorry for the quality of the photo, it was taken with the camera on my phone which, apart from a ladle, was all I had to hand.  Do not expect any Monkey recipes from me by the way...

In the meantime I have kept myself, and a few willing helpers, busy laying 196 square metres of tiles in the restaurant area as well as surrounding the same with the double wall that will form the beds for my herbs and flowers.
STILL a bloody building site but there is progress

Looks bigger now that it has been tiled.  That and only having one table. Sorry about the uncleared mess on it, I had to feed the troops and the maidling was still foraging for scraps when I took this photo.  I shall bend her over the table and give her a stiff talking to in the morning.


megan blogs said...

You posted it here, too. Good. i had actually checked here first. Always good to have a backup.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Blatant blog-post recycling.
But good to see you posing on this blog after all this time. Much as i love HOTL, I've always had big hopes for this blog as there is something about food writing and tales of meals cooked that i've always thought you did rather well.


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