Lobster with Yuzu Hollandaise and Uni Mashed Potatoes

This dish started life as one of those lingering ideas that I jotted down in my long list of “ideas to flesh out”. It’s a running list with everything from random ingredients to fully developed dishes. As I go through my day I look at it periodically adding and subtracting line items and ingredients, perfecting the dishes on paper before I actually go out and make it. Then, when I’m looking for something to cook, I go trolling through the list, hunting for my next meal.

This concept went through through a couple of revisions in my head before I actually made it. It all started with the idea of combining lobster with one of my favourite condiments, yuzu kosho. Yuzu kosho literally means yuzu pepper and is a condiment that’s made from the zest of the fragrant yuzu citrus mashed into a paste with salt and green chili peppers. My initial idea was to poach a whole lobster at a very low temperature, but after reading about some of the problems of cooking lobster whole, I decided it should be shucked first.

The next week was spent looking for a place that carried raw shucked lobster meat. There’s a company up in Maine that produces vacuum packed bags of raw shucked lobster, but I couldn’t find anyplace in Manhattan that carries it. I ended up heading to Chinatown where I found a place on Centre near Hester, through a door that made the place look closed, I entered a large cavernous space with enormous pools filled with all sorts of aquatic critters. I’m guessing most of their business comes from restaurants, but they also sell to to the public, and I bagged a two pound lobster for $19.

Whole live lobster in hand, the next challenge was to figure out how to get the shell off of it, since uncooked lobster meat tends to stick to the shell. I ended up using Thomas Keller’s par-poach technique, which is the first time my French Laundry cookbook has ever been used in the kitchen. Once out of the shell, I sealed it in a bag, extracted the air and cooked it in a 160 degree waterbath. This technique known as sous vide literally means “under pressure” and is known for producing super tender meat by slowly raising the internal temperature of food to the desired level. In this case it worked a little too well (or I did something wrong), and the lobster literally fell apart as I took it out of the bag.

It didn’t look great, and I was a little disappointed given the time I spent extracting each morsel from its shell in one piece, but it tasted amazing. I served this along with a sea urchin and yukon gold potato puree. Then it was all doused with yuzu hollandaise sauce. For some people, “Hollandaise sauce” conjures up images of a rich cloying sauce from yesteryear, but the butter/egg yolk emulsion makes for a versatile sauce that’s great paired with anything from eggs to seafood to dessert (salt replaced with sugar of course). In this case I replaced the lemon juice with yuzu juice and added a bit of yuzu kosho for some extra kick.

2 lbs live lobster
vinegar

for uni mashed potatoes
1/2 flat of uni (about 1/4 C)
2 Tbs butter at room temperature
1/4 C cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes roughly uniform in size

for hollandaise
1 tsp water
1 egg yolk
1/4 C butter cut into small cubes
1 tsp – 1 Tbs Yuzu juice
1/4 tsp yuzu kosho
pinch of sugar
salt to taste

Put the lobster in a pot deep enough to cover it with water. Fill the pot up with water then pour the water into another pot, leaving the lobster in the first pot. Boil the water, then add about 1 Tbs of vinegar for each quart of water (you can eyeball this based on the capacity of the pot you used). Once the water boils, carefully pour it into the pot with the lobster. Let this poach for 3 minutes. Remove the lobster with tongs. Twist off the tail then twist off the claws and return the claws to the hot water for another 5 minutes.

To get the tail meat out, use kitchen shears to cut the underside of the shell, right down the middle between the legs. For the knuckles, use a pair of clean channel lock pliers and apply enough force to crack the shell in several places. Then use your sheers to cut through some of the remaining joint material to get the meat out. For the claws, grab the top claw with one hand and grab the bottom claw with the other. Pull them apart until they separate, carefully pulling the lower clawl off along with the cartilage that runs through the middle of the claw. Then use your channel lock pliers to break the very tip of the top claw off and then crack the rest of the claw to get the meat out.

For my lobster I put the meat in a vacuum sealed bag them submerged it in a 160 degree water bath for 10 minutes. This yielded meat that was almost too tender, so I’d recommend increasing the temperature and decreasing the time, or trying a different method of cooking such as butter poaching or pan searing.

For the mashed potatoes, wash and scrub the potatoes but do not peel. If they are large, cut them in half so they are all roughly the same size. Put them in a large pot and cover with water bringing it to a boil. The reason you cook them with the skin on is to prevent them from absorbing too much water. Turn down the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until a fork is easily inserted into the center of a potato. Drain, then peel the potatoes with a paring knife being careful not to burn yourself. Load a potato ricer with the uni then press into a bowl. Then press the butter into the same bowl. Add the cream and salt and whisk to combine. Press the peeled potatoes into the bowl then gently stir until just combined.

For the hollandaise, find a small bowl (preferably ceramic) that can rest on top of a similarly sized sauce pan. Add enough water to the sauce pan so the bottom of the bowl will be submerged and bring to a boil. Lower the heat all the way to the low setting. With the bowl off the heat, add the water and yolk and whisk until smooth and creamy. Put the bowl on the saucepan and continue whisking until the egg yolk increases in volume, looks pale and is thick. Add the butter one piece at a time, whisking after each addition to combine. Finish by whisking in the yuzu kosho, yuzu juice, sugar and salt to taste.

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com/ Daily Spud

    Now those are some fancy mashed potatoes :)

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com Daily Spud

    Now those are some fancy mashed potatoes :)

  • http://thayn.spaces.live.com/ Thayn

    You didn’t mention cooking the uni. Do you buy it cleaned and cooked, or does it cook in the heat of the potatoes?

    • marc

      Hi Thayn, uni is typically eaten raw. While it also tastes great cooked, it takes on a texture more like cooked egg yolks so it would not integrate into the potatoes as well.

  • http://thayn.spaces.live.com Thayn

    You didn’t mention cooking the uni. Do you buy it cleaned and cooked, or does it cook in the heat of the potatoes?

    • marc

      Hi Thayn, uni is typically eaten raw. While it also tastes great cooked, it takes on a texture more like cooked egg yolks so it would not integrate into the potatoes as well.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Too bad the sous vide method didn’t quite work out. You should phone Keller and throw a paddy. I’m wondering, how did you empty the plastic bag of its air? Do you have some sort of special contraption or did you just suck out the air with a straw? :-) The uni purée looks amazing!

    • marc

      Normally you’d use a Foodsaver vacuum packaging machine, but mine didn’t arrive in time, so I just put it in a ziplock bag and pressed out all the air bubbles.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Too bad the sous vide method didn’t quite work out. You should phone Keller and throw a paddy. I’m wondering, how did you empty the plastic bag of its air? Do you have some sort of special contraption or did you just suck out the air with a straw? :-) The uni purée looks amazing!

    • marc

      Normally you’d use a Foodsaver vacuum packaging machine, but mine didn’t arrive in time, so I just put it in a ziplock bag and pressed out all the air bubbles.

  • http://vindelatable.blogspot.com/ Vin de la Table

    The idea of pairing a buttery sauce with yuzu over lobster is fantastic. I worked at a restaurant where we made a yuzu-miso-butter sauce and served it over searched hamachi and mango and I still think about it to this day. Gotta love the yuzu.

  • http://vindelatable.blogspot.com Vin de la Table

    The idea of pairing a buttery sauce with yuzu over lobster is fantastic. I worked at a restaurant where we made a yuzu-miso-butter sauce and served it over searched hamachi and mango and I still think about it to this day. Gotta love the yuzu.

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ Elra

    My mouth water just to read the ingredients in this dish. That yuzu kosho, sounds so foreign to me, sounds so delicious. I am going to like this mixture of yuzu citrus mashed into a paste with salt and green chili peppers.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com Elra

    My mouth water just to read the ingredients in this dish. That yuzu kosho, sounds so foreign to me, sounds so delicious. I am going to like this mixture of yuzu citrus mashed into a paste with salt and green chili peppers.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Is the Yuzu Koshu a pre-packaged condiment that you can get at the Japanese grocery?
    and you know my offer stands!

    • marc

      It typically comes in small jars and can be either green (like wasabi) or orangish red. Look for it in the same section as wasabi.

      • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

        Thanks we just had a new Japanese Grocery open right down the street from us. It is really nice and has a lot of organic rice, chicken and pork.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Is the Yuzu Koshu a pre-packaged condiment that you can get at the Japanese grocery?
    and you know my offer stands!

    • marc

      It typically comes in small jars and can be either green (like wasabi) or orangish red. Look for it in the same section as wasabi.

      • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

        Thanks we just had a new Japanese Grocery open right down the street from us. It is really nice and has a lot of organic rice, chicken and pork.

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    The lobster looks amazing on a plate! I’m curious what you used for sous vide – what kind of bags and any special equipment for the water bath?

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    The lobster looks amazing on a plate! I’m curious what you used for sous vide – what kind of bags and any special equipment for the water bath?

  • marc

    The right way to do sous vide is to vacuum seal the food using a Foodsaver then using a thermal circulator to maintain a precise temperature in your water bath. It’s a rather expensive setup for a home cook, so I used a ziploc bag with all the air pressed out and a large pot of water over a ceramic diffuser.

  • marc

    The right way to do sous vide is to vacuum seal the food using a Foodsaver then using a thermal circulator to maintain a precise temperature in your water bath. It’s a rather expensive setup for a home cook, so I used a ziploc bag with all the air pressed out and a large pot of water over a ceramic diffuser.

  • http://www.applesandbutter.com/ Jessica

    Ummm, holy shitballs Marc! I know I’m hungry, but I am seriously in need of some of this. If I could I would jump through the screen and on to that plate. Yum. Did you make your own Yuzu Kosho or can you buy it prepared?

    • marc

      Now that would have been hardcore:-) Unfortunately getting fresh yuzu here is ridiculously expensive, so I use the jarred stuff.

  • http://www.applesandbutter.com Jessica

    Ummm, holy shitballs Marc! I know I’m hungry, but I am seriously in need of some of this. If I could I would jump through the screen and on to that plate. Yum. Did you make your own Yuzu Kosho or can you buy it prepared?

    • marc

      Now that would have been hardcore:-) Unfortunately getting fresh yuzu here is ridiculously expensive, so I use the jarred stuff.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ syrie

    You are constantly outdoing yourself Marc. Love the plating and I can only imagine how good it tastes.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com syrie

    You are constantly outdoing yourself Marc. Love the plating and I can only imagine how good it tastes.

  • http://www.thekneadforbread.com/ Angela

    Lobster and Hollandaise why didn’t I think of that. Two of my favorites. I can’t wait to try your twist on the hollandaise.

  • http://www.thekneadforbread.com/ Angela

    Lobster and Hollandaise why didn’t I think of that. Two of my favorites. I can’t wait to try your twist on the hollandaise.

  • Christina

    Good lord, uni mashed potatoes. My heart just skipped a beat. Finally, a reason to buy an entire flat, as I’m always the only person that will eat it.

  • Christina

    Good lord, uni mashed potatoes. My heart just skipped a beat. Finally, a reason to buy an entire flat, as I’m always the only person that will eat it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&suggest&note_id=52476656297#/profile.php?id=594415820 Amy

    Ok. I came at ya from David Lebovitz’s and needless to say, having lobster and uni in one sentence is heavenly. Lol. Oh and thank you and um. Yup. hahaha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&suggest&note_id=52476656297#/profile.php?id=594415820 Amy

    Ok. I came at ya from David Lebovitz’s and needless to say, having lobster and uni in one sentence is heavenly. Lol. Oh and thank you and um. Yup. hahaha.

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    I am also intrigued by the uni mashed potatoes. How decadent!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    I am also intrigued by the uni mashed potatoes. How decadent!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ Pigpigscorner

    What is uni? The yuzu hollandaise sauce sounds great with the lobster! Sorry that the technique didn’t work out, but it sure looks and sounds good!

    • marc

      Well the technical definition of uni sounds totally disgusting so I’ll tell you what it tastes like before I tell you what it is. It’s a golden orange morsel that looks like a small piece of roe that has a creamy texture and sweet briny flesh that just melts on your tongue. Now for the technical definition, depending on who you ask, they will tell you uni are the gonads or ovaries of the sea urchin.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ Pigpigscorner

    What is uni? The yuzu hollandaise sauce sounds great with the lobster! Sorry that the technique didn’t work out, but it sure looks and sounds good!

    • marc

      Well the technical definition of uni sounds totally disgusting so I’ll tell you what it tastes like before I tell you what it is. It’s a golden orange morsel that looks like a small piece of roe that has a creamy texture and sweet briny flesh that just melts on your tongue. Now for the technical definition, depending on who you ask, they will tell you uni are the gonads or ovaries of the sea urchin.

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Wow, you did a great job with this. The uni mashed potatoes sound amazing, and the sauce, well, wow again.

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Wow, you did a great job with this. The uni mashed potatoes sound amazing, and the sauce, well, wow again.

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Taartelette

    That sounds delicious and indeed perfect for Love day!! I love the yuzu sauce!
    BTW, bravo for the NY Times article last week!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Taartelette

    That sounds delicious and indeed perfect for Love day!! I love the yuzu sauce!
    BTW, bravo for the NY Times article last week!

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    I love the use of yuzu in lieu of lemon here. Hollandaise does have a reputation as being sort of old-fashioned, but I love it and think it’s ready for a comeback. :)

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    I love the use of yuzu in lieu of lemon here. Hollandaise does have a reputation as being sort of old-fashioned, but I love it and think it’s ready for a comeback. :)

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com/ The Duo Dishes

    This is so great because we have no idea what yuzu or uni are, so the whole dish is a lovely surprise. :) Lovely indeed!

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com The Duo Dishes

    This is so great because we have no idea what yuzu or uni are, so the whole dish is a lovely surprise. :) Lovely indeed!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Wondering if a quick dip in some citrus juice for your lobster would have helped it hold together, since acid encourages protein coagulation? Just a thought. I’m not a seafood girl, but if I were, I think I’d probably go for this!

    I’m glad you point out that Hollandaise makes a great dessert–except then it’s usually called a sabayon:D

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Wondering if a quick dip in some citrus juice for your lobster would have helped it hold together, since acid encourages protein coagulation? Just a thought. I’m not a seafood girl, but if I were, I think I’d probably go for this!

    I’m glad you point out that Hollandaise makes a great dessert–except then it’s usually called a sabayon:D

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com/ megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    The yuzu-lobster-hollandaise combination really is inspired – once again I’m super impressed by your creativity! (um, and have I mentioned that i like your pics too?) :)

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    The yuzu-lobster-hollandaise combination really is inspired – once again I’m super impressed by your creativity! (um, and have I mentioned that i like your pics too?) :)

  • http://whatilikenyc.blogspot.com/ Laura [What I Like]

    Well that sounds downright amazing. I cannot believe how much work it was though! Any idea what the name of the place in Chinatown was by chance? Could use a good cheap fish place…

  • http://whatilikenyc.blogspot.com Laura [What I Like]

    Well that sounds downright amazing. I cannot believe how much work it was though! Any idea what the name of the place in Chinatown was by chance? Could use a good cheap fish place…

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ we are never full

    ohhh, uni mashers. i can totally see this working. the raw uni would really blend super well into some mashed potatoes. we had super-fresh uni last weekend and i couldn’t believe how custard-like the texture was. really creative idea. i can see how that balanced well w/ the flavor of the lobster. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – you’re good. damn good.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    ohhh, uni mashers. i can totally see this working. the raw uni would really blend super well into some mashed potatoes. we had super-fresh uni last weekend and i couldn’t believe how custard-like the texture was. really creative idea. i can see how that balanced well w/ the flavor of the lobster. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – you’re good. damn good.

  • http://www.angelasfoodlove.com/ Angela

    Brave, adventurous, and romantic — this dish has it all!

  • http://www.angelasfoodlove.com Angela

    Brave, adventurous, and romantic — this dish has it all!

  • http://www.greedygourmet.com/ Michelle

    I’m also struggling with the constant seesaw of food photography. If you cook food for the camera, it doesn’t always taste the best, i.e. like under cooking vegetables to make the colours stand out. If you cook for your stomach it doesn’t always look appetising but tastes delicious. Anyway, your photo looks amazing, whether or not the lobster fell apart. ;-)

  • http://www.greedygourmet.com Michelle

    I’m also struggling with the constant seesaw of food photography. If you cook food for the camera, it doesn’t always taste the best, i.e. like under cooking vegetables to make the colours stand out. If you cook for your stomach it doesn’t always look appetising but tastes delicious. Anyway, your photo looks amazing, whether or not the lobster fell apart. ;-)

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    Extracting lobster meat is a bitch but necessary, given the tasty end result. This is an elegant dish (starter?) and you were reserved with adding just enough Hollandaise.

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    Extracting lobster meat is a bitch but necessary, given the tasty end result. This is an elegant dish (starter?) and you were reserved with adding just enough Hollandaise.

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  • http://www.siliconvalleysousvide.blogspot.com SiliconValleySousVide

    Enjoyed this recipe.  I have done a fair amount of sous vide lobster.  I think your temperature is actually a little too high and your time too short.  I’ve done lobster at 143F for more like 45 minutes.  It comes out very tender, but also has the texture similar to what people are normally used to using the poached or steamed method.  Lower temperatures will create a more rare doneness.  I’ve going to try your sauce!  Thanks

  • KD

    I’ve been perusing the web looking for a simple way to prepare lobster tails. Honestly after steaming, grilling (which is the most successful to date), I have yet to find a recipe that treats a lobster tail w/complete simple & sweet crustacean justice. I mean it seem seconds off & you’ve got 1 tough lobster tail baby. Marc, can you give us a PBS lesson on a fast & furious way to cook a simple tail? Lobster tail that is. :-)

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!