Sunday, April 21, 2013

(Belated) Chinese New Year Meal #7: Ginger-Scallion Lobster

First things first - I know that I have been awfully delinquent with my final Chinese New Year meal.  I wanted to make seafood but I couldn't find any seafood recipes that really appealed to me.  Then I tried to make salt and pepper squid (aka salt baked squid) at home and failed.  The potato flour breading we tried to use on the squid just fell off and gunked up the oil.  The flavor was fine (if a little oily) but it was definitely not worth posting.  I spent hours poking around in our various cookbooks and online to find another recipe that I really wanted to make but nothing really appealed to me or if a recipe did appeal to me, it either required ingredients that were difficult to source or required entirely too much time and effort.   I seriously considered buying a new Chinese cookbook (either Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo or The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from Around the World by Linda Lau Anusasananan) for some inspiration but decided that was a little silly.  I might still buy them at some later date, but buying an entire cookbook to come up with one last Chinese New Year meal seemed a little extravagant.  It is entirely possible that I am in a cooking rut (but that's another post altogether).  I briefly considered making lobster (both because I have never made lobster at home before, and also because it seemed luxurious enough to make up for the fact that I have been MIA on this final Chinese New Year meal for over a month now), but discarded it as being too expensive.  But this past weekend we had a rental car (that I booked to visit a friend in Westchester) and I decided that a trip to Costco and Target was in order.  While at Costco I saw some (relatively) inexpensive lobster tails and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and try to make ginger-scallion lobster.  I poked around online for a little while and ended up watching a video of Ming Tsai and a Chinese chef making ginger-scallion lobster.  I also found a Rasa Malaysia recipe for ginger and scallion crab that I was about to use until I decided that fish sauce just didn't belong in my final Chinese New Year meal.  So I went ahead and improvised, using the video for basic guidance.  

I will be the first to admit that this dish wasn't perfect.  I wish more flavor from the ginger and scallions permeated the lobster, particularly the ginger.  I also wish we hadn't (slightly) overcooked the lobster.  But such is life.  As a side note, the reason that our lobsters aren't the fire engine red that you expect from Maine lobster is because the lobster tails at Costco were either Caribbean spiny lobsters or Brazilian lobsters (our two tails looked substantially different from one another and one had serious spines on the shell) and not Maine lobsters.  So this certainly wasn't a restaurant-worthy version of ginger-scallion lobster but I was pretty happy with it considering (1) we didn't follow a recipe and (2) this was our first attempt at cooking lobster.

Recipe after the jump!

Ginger-Scallion Lobster

2 lobster tails (about 1 1/2 lbs total), cut into chunks
3 tbsp cornstarch, plus additional 1 tsp (separated)
canola oil or peanut oil, for frying
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into thin rounds and smashed
6 scallions, green and white parts, cut into 2-inch pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed 
1/2 cup chicken stock, plus additional 1 tbsp (separated)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Pat dry with paper towels and put into a big bowl.  Add cornstarch to the bowl and toss to lightly coat the lobster pieces.  Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add cooking oil (we used about 1-inch worth of oil and shallow fried, but you could totally add more and deep fry).  When the oil is hot, drop the lobster pieces and fry, stirring often.  As soon as the lobster shells turn red, remove and set aside on a plate.  They won't be fully cooked at this point, but they're not supposed to be.  Remove excess oil, leaving about 2-3 tbsp behind in the wok.
Return wok to medium-high heat.  Add the ginger and stir-fry until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the scallions and garlic cloves.  Stir-fry until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Return the lobster pieces into the wok and quickly stir a few times to coat in the aromatic oil.  Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar, Shaoxing and white pepper.  Toss the lobster in the wok a few times until well coated with the sauce.  Combine remaining 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp stock in a small bowl to create a slurry.  Add the slurry to the wok and stir to thicken.  Remove from heat.  Pour in sesame oil and toss to combine.  

Serve immediately.

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