Dingle is a seafood lover’s very soggy dream. Lobsters abound. Mackerel is everywhere. And Pollack is plentiful. We picked up a few of lobsters as a very indulgent treat in Dingle and somehow managed to drive them home without the dogs eating them in the boot!
We cooked them simply by boiling them with some carrots, celery and seasoning before serving them with homemade mayonnaise. But the indulgence didn’t end there.
I then spent the next three days making lobster bisque with the carcasses and stock. You may think this is excessive. And it probably is. But it produced 2009’s tastiest mug of food.
After we had finished our lobsters I put them all in a roasting tray and blasted them in a hot oven for 20 minutes having splashed them with cognac. The smell that exploded out of the oven when they emerged transported me to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant.
I reduced the lobster stock and then added the carcasses along with several bay leaves, some chopped onions, a splash of Worcesershire sauce, a dash of Tobasco, carrots and celery. I wasn’t following a recipe, so it was all done by feel. This bubbled away for several hours. And the longer it cooked the darker the liquid became. I let it cool over night and rest for a day in the fridge before straining it to create a fine stock and bringing back to a simmer. By the time it had burbled away for a further 6 hours it had turned brick red and was smelling very sophisticated. Playing scrabble with a soundscape of bubbling bisque and the waft of lobster is one of my favourite food memories of the year. But I’m still furious that “zion” on a triple word score got blocked.
With half an hour to go before dinner, I added two tubes of tomato paste, a pint of double cream and a glass of Martini. After a further 20 minutes of simmering it looked like proper bisque. I checked the seasoning and then served in mugs to 10 people with a swirl of double cream, some finely chopped parsley and a drizzle of lemon juice.
The photos don’t really do it justice. I don’t think anything could. There was something very fin de siècle about the way we guzzled it from a range of erratic, rustic mugs, like you would do with a tin of Heinz Cream of Tomato. Who needs rouille, croutons and gruyere when the base bisque is so good?