Lobster à l’americaine with Basmati-Risotto Cakes

This recipe is from Chef Didier Virot of Aix restaurant in New York City who serves a traditional lobster à l’americaine accompanied by crispy sautéed rice cakes. The rice cakes are breaded in panko, Japanese-style bread crumbs.


Northern Rhône Marsanne, ideally Hermitage Blanc —a full bodied, rich, moderately dry white with notes of spice, pear, orange and peach—has enough alcohol and complexity to take on the lobster, but matches the fresher flavors here effectively, too; recommended producers include J.L. Chave, E. Guigal and Marc Sorrel.

  • For the lobster
  • 3 lobsters
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 8 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 small bunch tarragon, chopped
  • 3 large sprigs rosemary
  • 1 small bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped (save the stems)
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • For the basmati-risotto cakes
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko, or unseasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten

To prepare the lobster: Place the lobsters into a large pot of boiling water for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then shock them under cold running water. Remove the meat and set aside. Chop the shells into chunks. Place the shells and the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot and sauté until they turn red. Turn the heat to low, add the shallots, celery, carrots, and tomato paste, and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and continue to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes.

Place the tomatoes and white wine in a food processor and purée. Add the mixture to the pot, along with 1 cup water, half of the chopped tarragon, the rosemary sprigs, parsley stems, and garlic. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper, cover again, and let simmer very slowly for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a colander with large holes, pressing down on the solids, and then strain again through a fine sieve. The consistency of the sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. (If the sauce seems too thin, place it in a small saucepan and simmer to reduce it to the proper consistency.) Add the remaining tarragon, the chopped parsley leaves, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

To prepare the basmati-risotto cakes: Place the rice, salt, and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook for 14 minutes. When rice is almost tender, stir in the cream and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes longer. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Spread the mixture ½ inch thick in a baking pan lined with waxed paper, and let cool. Refrigerate the rice until thoroughly cold, about 2 hours.

Put the panko in a food processor and finely grind. Pour it into a shallow dish. Using a knife or large cookie cutter, cut the rice into 8 cakes. Carefully brush them with the beaten egg on both sides, then dip the cakes into the panko to coat on both sides.

Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Fry the rice cakes, without crowding the pan, until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Take care when you flip them so they don’t break apart.

To serve, in a nonstick pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil for the lobster over high heat. Season the lobster meat with salt and black pepper and sauté for just a few minutes until cooked. Toss the lobster meat with the sauce, and sprinkle with parsley.

To serve, transfer the lobster to a shallow bowl and serve with the basmati cakes on the side.

Published on December 18, 2009