Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cambodian Lobster Soup

Contributed by Rick Shagoury.

This is a rather delicate, fragrant soup using very simple and vibrant ingredients. There is a considerable amount of prep work involved, but once the stock is done and the herbs and vegetables are prepared, the actual soup only takes about 10 minutes to finish. I came across this recipe recently in my pursuit of something new to do with lobster. The following is my own modified version.

2 live lobsters, one pound each
1 pound ripe tomatoes (I prefer plum tomatoes)
10 cups water
10 cloves garlic
2 or 3 small Thai chiles
1 inch of fresh ginger
1 or 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass
4 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 scallions
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
juice of 2 limes
freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

First, we will need to par-boil the lobsters and make the stock. Put about 8 quarts of water in a lobster or stock pot, and add sea salt until the water is noticeably salty, and bring to a boil. Place the lobsters in the water and boil for exactly 3-1/2 minutes. Remove the lobsters with tongs and leave them to cool, but do not get rid of the water!

Score each tomato with an X on the bottom, using a paring knife (preferably serrated). Put the tomatoes into the same boiling water you used to cook the lobsters, and remove after 30-45 seconds. By this point, you should see the skins blister and peel away. Immediately put the tomatoes into ice-cold water.

Peel and quarter the tomatoes, saving the skins and seeds. Pare out the tomato "guts" and centers and save them also. Slice the tomato quarters into thin strips and reserve.

Once the lobsters have cooled enough to handle, carefully shell them. Rinse off any roe or tomalley from the tail and shells with cold water. Cut the meat into roughly 1/2 inch thick slices and reserve in the fridge. Put the shells back into the water, along with the tomato skins, seeds and guts. (Note: this method will yield a large amount of stock for future use. You could also just discard the existing water and start a new pot to make this stock, starting with the lobster shells, tomato remnants, and 10 cups of water.)

Bring the water to a boil and skim any foam off of the top. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for the time being.

Peel the ginger, saving the peels, and slice into thin julienne strips. Add the ginger peels to the stock. Peel the garlic. Crush three of the cloves and add them to the stock. Slice the remaining seven cloves very thin. Cut the lemongrass roughly into sections of about 1 inch, and add them to the stock as well. Slice the chile peppers lengthwise and add them to the stock. Simmer the stock for about 1 hour, adding salt to taste. Once you decide it's ready, strain the stock. You can make the stock a day in advance, but be sure it is reheated before you start making the soup.

Slice the mushrooms (stems removed) into 1/4 inch strips.
Slice the scallions into very thin rounds.

In a large saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Saute for about 1 minute, then add the ginger and saute for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the mushrooms and continue sauteing for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the hot stock (about 6-8 cups, or more if you like), tomato strips, and sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the lobster meat, scallions, mint and lime juice. Season with salt and/or pepper as needed, and serve immediately.

One of the downsides of this soup is that it does not reheat well, since the lobster tends to become chewy after it's refrigerated and reheated. Also, it is best to serve this soup as soon as you've added the final ingredients and stirred it just enough to integrate everything. Enjoy!


  1. I agree, Ginny. What a fabulous, colorful array of ingredients!

  2. This looks fantastic. I do love lobster. :)

  3. Doesn't it look great, Rebecca? I wish I could take credit, but this one is Rick's. Thanks for visiting!