We happened to be in the supermarket the other day and the fishmonger had an offer of two frozen Maine lobster tails for a tenner. What the heck, we thought, and bought them thinking it would make a change from conjuring another use for leftover New Year's Eve roast beef. On the way home, I was thinking of what to do with the lobster and vaguely recollected a recipe for lobster with XO sauce, which is a classic Cantonese preparation. XO sauce is one of those condiments that I've become slightly addicted to. The flavour is compellingly unique and somewhat difficult to describe but the combination of the heat from the chilli and the texture from the dried scallops is ethereal. It's a great standby to have in the fridge for throwing into stir fries or dressing some steamed tofu.
I make no claim to authenticity with this recipe but it's an impressive and indulgent meal for two. It leaves you with a beautiful lingering flavour with the heat from the XO complimented by the sweetness of the lobster meat and the stir fried onions. I used scallop flavoured noodles because I had them on hand and thought the flavour would go well with the lobster. When I posted the photo of the completed dish on Instagram, it generated more comments than any other photo there, so I'm sure you'll impress yourself and others too. If you don't have any lobster, I think the recipe would work just as well with green prawns, or even chicken or pork.
What you need (for two)
2 noodle nests - I absolutely love these scallop flavour noodles
2 lobster tails
3 tbsp vegetable oil
ginger - a thumb's worth peeled and cut into julienne.
half a Spanish onion - sliced
half a red pepper - chopped into small dice
2 pak choy or other green Asian veg to your liking
1 tbps Shaoxing rice wine
3 tbsp XO sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
100ml chicken stock (try not to use a cube)
half a teaspoon sesame oil
1 spring onion - sliced into julienne
coriander - a few tbsp of picked leaves
What you do
First cook your noodles in boiling water for two minutes. Stir with chopsticks to unravel the tight nests. Drain and keep aside.
Now prepare your lobster tails - a cleaver will help to cut through the shell. Cut them in half down the length of the tail which will fan open into two long pieces. It should reveal the black digestive tract that runs along the back of the tail close to the shell which you can scrape out. Now cut the lobster pieces into more manageable eating pieces - say two or three chunks per piece depending on how long your original lobster tail is. Rinse the lobster to get rid of any dislodged shell and dry the pieces.
Prepare the pak choy by slicing off the base and peeling away the leaves. Chop the inner core into halves or quarters if they are a bit large. Rinse out any dirt hiding on the leaves.
Get your liquid ingredients ready. Stir the XO, soy, sugar, stock and sesame oil together and keep at the ready.
Heat your wok until it is smoking hot and add 2 tbsp of oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the lobster pieces and stir fry quickly for only 2 to 3 minutes. You want the lobster meat to just go from opaque to white and the shell to turn a luminous orange. Remove the pieces and then throw in the cooked noodles and stir fry to soak up the excess oil flavoured by the stir fried lobster shells. It will only take a minute or so to give the noodles this treatment. Don't worry if some noodles stick to the bottom of your wok and get crispy. They will eventually be incorporated into the sauce and make it taste great. Remove the noodles and keep with the lobster pieces.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok and stir fry the ginger, red onion and pepper for two minutes until it smells fragrant, and then add the pak choy and stir again to combine. Add the splash of shaoxing and stir fry for a minute to wilt the pak choy and scrape any bits stuck to the wok. Tip in the reserved liquid ingredients that you prepared earlier - they should come to a rapid boil. Now return the noodles and the lobster to the wok and stir fry the lot to combine. The noodles should soak up the liquids and the lobster should be nicely coated with sauce. It only takes a minute or two.
Serve the noodles in a deep serving dish and top with the spring onions and coriander and a final shake of white pepper. You'll probably need to use your hands to dig the lobster meat free of its shell, but that just adds to the enjoyment of this dish.