In the past couple of months I had enjoyed the best meat dishes of my life — pork neck, beef cheek, pork knuckles, beef neck, goose leg, duck breast — you name it. Hungarian cuisine is known for its meats. Like the Chinese, nothing on an animal is ever wasted for an Hungarian butcher; every part is made into food. While I loved the food in Budapest, I really missed Chinese food and fresh seafood that are always abundant in San Francisco.
Now that I am back at home, Chinese food is what I have been eating almost everyday. During our weekly visit to Costco today, we bought some really fresh lobster tails. One of Peter’s favorite dishes when we go to a Cantonese restaurant is ginger scallion lobster, which I had never attempted at home. When Peter asked me to make it, I said I didn’t know how. Peter looked at me with a big smile and exclaimed, “But you are the Hungry Empress!” Peter volunteered to clean and cut the lobster tails while I poured over the internet for a Cantonese style ginger scallion lobster recipe that looked good. I found this delicious recipe on TheWoksOfLife.com. The dish turned out beautifully.
Did I ever mention in any previous blog that Peter was smuggled out of Canton and into Hong Kong in a secret compartment of a rickety junk at the age of five? Well, you can get the boy out of Canton, but not the Canton out of the boy. The affinity for Cantonese cuisine never fades with the passage of time.
Cantonese-Style Ginger Scallion Lobster
3 large lobster tails
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cups oil for flash frying, plus 2 tablespoons for stir fry
16 thin slices ginger
5 scallions, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of sugar
fresh ground white pepper
Wash and cut lobster tails into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
Let all of the lobster pieces drain of excess water after you rinse them and pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix the flour and cornstarch in a shallow bowl, and lightly dredge the lobster pieces. Dredge only the exposed meat to seal in the juices.
At this point, many restaurants deep fry the lobster in a large wok to quickly seal in the juices. This process only takes 20 seconds or so, but I used on 2/3 cup of oil in a non-stick pan and pan seared the lobster pieces flesh side first. This flash fry method cooks the lobster about 70% of the way through, enhances the lobster flavor, produces a rich color, and seals in the juices while preventing the tender meat from overcooking.
Heat 2/3 cup of oil in a non-stick pan to about 350 degrees F, and drop the lobster into the pot a few pieces at a time for about 15 seconds on either side. Remove to a sheet pan to drain. The shells should turn bright red almost instantly.
To finish the dish, start with a clean wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok, along with the ginger and garlic. Let the ginger fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the white portions of the scallions and the lobster. Stir fry on for 20 seconds, keeping the heat cranked up as high as it’ll go.
Pour the wine around the perimeter of the wok and immediately cover it. Let it cook for about 2 minutes. This step infuses or “bakes” the lobster with the ginger and scallion flavor.
Uncover the wok and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, white pepper, and the rest of the scallions. Stir fry for another minute. You can add a couple tablespoons of chicken stock or water if the wok is too dry.