NAC Recipe: Lobster with Thai Herbs

November 16 2009

by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Suggested Pairing: King Estate Pinot Gris
From King Estate’s New American Cuisine Pinot Gris Cookbook

Lobster with Thai Herbs

Serves 6


  • 4 live lobsters, about 1-1/2 pounds each
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry paste (available in the Asian section of supermarkets)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon green curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, plus a little butter for warming up the lobster meat
  • 1 piece lemon grass, cut into batonnets about an inch long
  • 2 lime leaves (available in Asian grocery stores)
  • 1/2 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 cup white Port, Sauternes, or other similar dessert wine
  • 1 golden delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut in fine julienne
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 2 medium bok choy, cut in 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves

To prepare lobsters:

Put the lobster into a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Plunge into a bowl of ice water to cool, then drain. Using a cleaver, cut through the lobster at the point where the head and tail meet. Separate the legs where they connect to the body. Using a small sharp knife, cut away any connective tissue and clean out the inside of the head leaving the shell intact. Return the cleaned head to boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Set aside to use as garnish. With a pair of small, sharp scissors, cut through the center of the underside of the tail, being careful not to cut into the meat. Trim down each side of the underside of the tail. Slipping your hand under the tail meat, gently release it from the shell, trying to maintain it in one piece. Remove the intestinal tract. Crack the claws and carefully remove the meat in the largest pieces possible. Place in a small bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to assemble dish. This can be done up to 4 hours ahead.

For the sauce base, mix the 3 curry pastes. In a sauté pan, melt the butter, add the curry mixture and sweat it for a minute. Add lemon grass, lime leaves, carrots and turmeric and continue to sweat for a few minutes. Add white Port and reduce by half. Add apples and simmer for 3 minutes. Cool and reserve.

Just before serving, heat the sauce base and stir in the whipped cream. Season with salt to taste and keep warm. Cut the lobster into 1/2″ medallions. In a sauté pan, melt a little butter and heat the lobster slowly for about 4 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Sauté the bok choy with the peanut oil until tender. Heat the lobster head in oven for a few minutes.

To assemble:

Arrange bok choy in the center of each plate. Place the head shell on top and fill with lobster meat. Nap with sauce and garnish with a scattering of chopped cilantro.

Jean-Georges VongerichtenJean-Georges Vongerichten

of Vong in New York City/London
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is considered one of the front runners of multi-cultural cuisine in New York. Born and raised in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges started cooking at the age of 15 as an apprentice under Paul Haeberlin of the Auberge de l’Ill. He then went on to work with Paul Bocuse and, finally, Louis Outhier at L’Oasis in the South of France; all three restaurants have three Michelin stars. With this experience, he participated in opening ten restaurants around the world, including those in the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Meridien in Singapore and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong.

Jean-Georges arrived in New York in 1986, immediately wowing diners and critics as chef at Lafayette in the Drake Swissôtel. While there, he earned a four-star review from The New York Times, and helped boost the reputation of the restaurant to one of the best in the city. After this success, he went on to open JoJo, his own Manhattan bistro, which was named Esquire’s Best New Restaurant of the Year. In 1994, he was nominated for the James Beard Best American Chef: New York City award, in recognition of his accomplishments at JoJo.

Two years after the phenomenal success of JoJo, Jean-Georges dazzled New Yorkers with his Asian fantasy, Vong, which imaginatively merged the ingredients and seasonings of Thailand with the refinement of classical French technique. In November of 1995 he opened a second Vongin London.

Jean-Georges was a leader in the movement toward the use of vegetable juices, vinaigrettes, broths and flavored oils with their clear colors and bright flavors. The recipe he created for our cookbook–Lobster with Thai Spices–is a symphony of succulence, sweetness and spiciness, with a slight citrus tang from the lemon grass. Jean-Georges and Christophe Michaud, Vong’s general manager, feel that “Pinot Gris is a great wine to go with the lobster due to its richness in exotic fruit, but with some nice acidity and the honey and spice tones that you need to support this quite spicy dish.”