Wednesday 3 October 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
Jungle in the background, not fifty yards away as I said

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.


  1. Thanks for posting the recipe!

    I live on the coast and can get lobster for a very reasonable price. I actually prefer the claw meat, although i eat all of it, except for the tamale. Just not a fan.

  2. I'm with you on the tamale, Megan, but we really do not see much green stuff in our lobsters. There are those who will split the body (if the lobster has been boiled and served whole) and pick through the carcass. I can't be fussed with that the same as I cannot be fussed with picking through crabs, the bits inside the carapace that support the legs. Too much effort. Better just to use the difficult bits to make stock.

    What I do like, for both lobster and crab, is mixing the roe up with hot pepper sauce and a bit of beer in the shell and slurping it down. It is pretty delicious...

    The crabs have claws here, big bloody claws and the meat is superb. I like to serve that up with, wait for it, a 50:50 mix of Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Cross and Blackwell salad cream, black pepper and a generous dash of Tabasco over a bed of water cress and avocado slices with a bit of finely chopped fresh coriander and
    peeled fresh orange segments.

    Megan I am going bloody nuts here with the time these oiks are taking to finish the job. I am so desperate to open my restaurant and start flipping burgers for a living.

  3. That's a precious little Test Taster you have there!

  4. We were in Sydney some time back and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant - one of those with "Live seafood tanks" where patrons select their dinner from the live products swimming around - there were fish of all kinds (including the infamous European carp which the Chinese seem to love), eels, crabs and lobsters.

    On inquiry we were told that a medium sized lobster - about 1 to 1.5kg, was $65AUS cooked and served to our liking! We passed on that and went for more traditional fare.

  5. it tickles me that your dining room is in a car port and you have a lovely dining room table and chairs!
    now THAT'S good breeding!!!!!!!
    ps send me your address tom.... would like to send you something for christmas!!!

  6. I'm loving that cooker. I think I'd fuck off and live with the monkeys if that was the only cooking machine I had.

    I'll try the curry; the rice with oil you can keep. A very fit Vietnamese girl showed me her rice method years ago, and I've stuck with it ever since.

    My favourite way of eating Kingfish is to line a bowl with spinach, drop in chunks of Kingfish, fresh herbs, chilli paste, garlic, onions, a couple of beaten eggs and some coconut milk. Then top it off with more spinach, cover it and steam for 40 minutes.

  7. Barbee, he is delightful, isn't he?

    JohnD, blimey!

    Earl Gray, CARPORT!!! If it is a carport, it is a fucking expensive one! This is the dining area of the soon to be opened restaurant. A beautifully thatched, now beautifully tiled open air space. The furniture (the table is my old kitchen table, the victorian mahogony dining table which seats 12 comfortably is safely stored away) has some miles chalked up. Uk to Germany and back again, then to Angola, then to Cape Town then back to Angola again.

    IG, your kingfish recipe sounds brilliant and I shall try it. We don't have spinach here but we do have Manioc leaves which are very close. I was only supposed to be living in the kitchen of my restaurant for six weeks. My time off for good behaviour should have paroled me in March. I am still here. Packed away in boxes I have all Bosch appliances waiting to go into our new home. Then I will really start cooking again. Right now we are camping.

  8. Cheers for the recipe Nigella. Have you got any culinary tips for baked beans?

  9. Oh yes, Chris.

    Chop some bacon up and fry it off until soft, no oil necessary, there's enough in the bacon, sling in a teaspoon of Garam Masala, a dash of tabasco, stir it all around a bit and then sling in the beans.

    Open up a tin of Italian peeled tomatoes, pour them into a dish, lashings of pepper and microwave until they are hot.

    Serve over toasted, well buttered bread accompanied by a pint of real ale.


  10. Nice to see you are still alive Chris. You owe me a Fat Hippo logo, I was getting worried...

  11. I can see you being the new Jamie Oliver - "Cooking with the Colonel", an alternative cooking programme - fags and amber nectar and all. Next time why not give instructions for The Real Yorkshire Pudding? Take from bag in freezer - plonk on oven tray and warm up for three minutes then munch. Mmmm...heaven! And not a Yorkshire terrier-rat in sight!

  12. The Curry recipe sure seems delicious. And the restaurant is taking shape nicely. When do you suppose you might be cooking in its kitchen? I like the planting beds that will provide you with fresh herbs. Nice touch. We live near the Chesapeake Bay here, so lots of Blue Crab to be had. Like you, I'm not a big fan of all the work entailed to extract the meat, though it is rather delicious. If ever you need a bunch of Old Bay seasoning (a staple here for shellfish) just let me know.

    I like your Quality Control inspector. Seems like a lad who doesn't mince his words...

  13. Having lived in an ongoing restoration project for years, and (not having learnt) now taken on another one, I sympathise with the camping.

    How lovely to be able to live with no walls. I've done that too, but it's not so pleasant in the UK!

    Great recipe. Will try it with big prawns.

  14. car port!!!!!!!!!!!
    I apologise!!!!!
    I am such a dunce!!!!!!!!
    ( must be my 5£ EBAY SPECS)


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