I am not sure who or what land being had the courage to first dine on the crustacean known as lobster, but I am sure glad he/she/it did. Although lobster did not achieve haute cuisine status until the 1930s, it is now considered a delicacy for all occasions. We always include lobster as part of one or more holiday menus, so for our Italian-themed Christmas Eve dinner I used a recipe that combined three of my favorite ingredients: citrus, pasta and lobster.
The January 2012 issue of Bon Appetit features on article on citrus filled with light and healthy recipes that provide some healthy options after a month-long holiday binge. Remember, January 1st does mark five months until swimsuit season, except for those of us in desert climes, in which case swimsuits are nearly year-round attire.
The recipe described below is an ever so slightly adjusted version of the Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chile and Mint found on page 77 of Bon Appetit’s January 2012 issue. Since our local market had lobster on sale for a song, and because my sous chef strongly prefers it to crab, we substituted lobster for the crab. Red Thai Chiles were not available, so I had to use the green, and for color I used one of my red chiles from the garden. A word of caution. Don’t be like my sous chef and pop one of the Thai chiles in your mouth. At best you won’t be able to taste the nuances of the dish; at worst, you might traumatize your tongue and taste buds for days to come.
I love how the layers of this dish finish on your palate. The freshness of the mint, with the acidity and citrus flavors from the lemon, are offset by the soft heat of the chiles making this a perfect mouthful when you add buttery lobster and linguine. We used this dish as the secondi course, but it works well as the primi course.
Linguine with Lobster, Lemon, Chile and Mint – adapted from the Bon Appetit January 2012 issue.
8 Ounces Linguine
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ Cup Minced Shallots
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic (I used 2-3 because I love garlic)
1 Red Chile
3 Green Thai Chile
1 ½ Tablespoon or more of fresh lemon juices
2 Teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 Lobster – cooked, cleaned and shelled
1/3 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves – shredded, torn or chiffonaded
1 Cup Pasta Cooking liquid (reserve 1 cup from cooked pasta)
Cook the pasta per instructions in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and stir until just soft (3-4 minutes). Add garlic and chiles and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 1 minute).
Add ½ tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons pasta cooking liquid and a pinch of pepper to the shallot mixture. Stir until the liquid is almost evaporated (about 1 minute). Transfer the pasta to the skillet and add ½ cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing the pasta or stirring, until the liquid is almost evaporated and the pasta becomes glossy (about 2 minutes). Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest, the lobster, half the mint and more chiles (if desired).
Stir the pasta until the butter melts and the pasta is well coated. Add more pasta cooking liquid if the dish seems dry.
Divide the pasta into bowls or plates and top with the remaining lemon zest and mint. Finish with a little extra lemon juice if desired. (I recommend this as a great way to finish the dish.)