Lobster Thermidor is a classic way of serving lobster. Usually served in its own shell. Cooked in a very rich sauce of béchamel, cream, egg yolks and finished under the grill with Gruyere or Parmesan. There is some debate as to whether the sauce is flavoured with brandy and English mustard. But it is the way I was taught and it’s how I like it. The sauce should be creamy, with a little heat and a nice kick from the brandy. Lobster Thermidor is the perfect dinner party dish to excite any discerning guest and a real showstopper.
A bit of Thermidor History
Lobster Thermidor has a particularly interesting history. Thermidor is named after a famous play celebrating the downfall of Robespierre and end the infamous ‘Reign of Terror’ that followed the French Revolution. Thermidor was the name of a month in the Revolutionary calendar. A number of famous French restaurants are all sourced as the home of the original Thermidor. These include the famous Café de Paris. What is certain is it is a popular today as it was well over one hundred years ago.
What to Drink? You can try any of the classic white wines recommended for seafood such as Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé or any really good unoaked chardonnay. If you are feeling extravagant try some vintage champagne.
My Lobster and Prawn Thermidor
The great thing about my Lobster and Prawn Thermidor is you can prepare everything in advance. Then store in your refrigerator and then simply bake and serve. You can cook your thermidor using raw lobster. However in this recipe, I use a poached cooked lobster and gently reheat in the sauce. I have a brilliant recipe for restaurant quality poached lobster but if you want to save time you can buy it in ready cooked.
When you reheat be careful and don’t overcook or your beautiful lobster will become tough and chewy. I also like to add a few prawns to the mix but that’s me just being extravagant. You could add a spoon of crabmeat if available and you want to be really decadent. You can add another layer of flavour by making your béchamel sauce with equal amounts of milk and a good quality fish stock. I like to add a splash of Vermouth to add another hint of aniseed to my sauce.
Lobster and Prawn Thermidor
- Heavy-bottomed pan
- 2 Lobster you can cook them yourself or buy in ready cooked
- 100 grams Cocktail Prawns cooked and peeled
- 4 large Banana Shallots peeled and finely chopped
- 300 ml Béchamel
- 300 ml Jersey Double Cream
- 50 grams Mature Cheddar finely grated
- 50 grams Parmesan finely grated
- 100 ml quality Brandy
- 100 ml Vermouth
- 50 grams Jersey Salted Butter
- 2 free-range Egg Yolks
- Juice of half a Lemon freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons English Mustard
- ½ tablespoon Tarragon finely chopped, reserve the stems
- Generous pinch Cayenne Pepper
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First prepare the lobster meat. Remove the claws and legs away from each of the lobsters. Using a large knife cut the lobsters in half. Clean out the head cavities and place the contents into a small bowl with the legs.
- Carefully remove the dark tub from the tail meat and discard. Chop the lobster tail and put into another bowl with the cooked prawns. Rince out the shells and set aside.
- Next carefully crack the claws and knuckles with the knife, then pick out all the meat using a lobster pick or small skewer. Cut up the claw meat and add all the lobster to the bowl with the tail meat.
- Place any shell into the bowl with the legs and head meat.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and soften the shallots for fifteen minutes until cooked and golden.
- Add the retained head meat and lobster shell and turning up the heat and cook for couple more minutes stirring constantly. Add the brandy and vermouth and carefully flame.
- Add the mustard, béchamel, cayenne, cream, and tarragon stems and bring to a gentle bring to a gentle simmer, cook the sauce for twenty minutes stirring regularly to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
- Pour the cooled sauce into another saucepan through a fine mesh sieve and push with the back of a sturdy wooden spoon to get all of the sauce. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. This can be made in advance, covered, and kept chilled.
- To serve, carefully reheat your sauce over a low heat until warmed through, then stir in the reserved lobster, prawns and chopped tarragon. Place the shells on to a baking tray and spoon in the mixture, then sprinkle with the cheese and place under a preheated grill for until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese golden brown. Carefully remove and place on a plate with a fish slice.