Steamed Lobster with Duck Eggs

This was a favourite both at my uncle’s restaurant and at home, where it was almost always featured at family banquets. We kept the live lobsters in tanks at the restaurant, and my job was to prepare them when the orders came in.

The Chinese clientele insisted on the freshest possible seafood – hence the tanks of live lobsters – and they understood that the steaming technique was the best and most delicate way to enjoy this wonderful crustacean. Instead of butter, our version came with a tasty custard of preserved duck eggs. The small bit of pork is added to the custard to make the expensive lobster go further. This recipe makes for a very special meal.

Salted duck eggs are available from most Chinese grocers and supermarkets.

Ingredients

  • 1 × 675 g ( lb) live lobster
  • 115 g (4 oz) minced pork
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 salted duck eggs
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions
  • tablespoons finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Method

Clean and split the lobster in half, then lightly crack the claws, the back shell and lobster legs with the side of a cleaver or large knife. (The Chinese usually cut up lobsters live, but you can blanch them for 2 minutes first, if you prefer.)

In a bowl, mix together the pork, eggs, salt, pepper and sugar. Crack open and separate the duck eggs, pouring the whites into the bowl with the beaten egg and pork. Mix well. Take the salted duck egg yolks, which are firm, cut them in half and set aside.

Pour the egg and pork mixture into a deep, heatproof 20—25 cm (8–10 in) plate and arrange the lobster halves in an attractive manner on top. Then place the duck egg yolks between the lobster pieces.

Next set up a steamer, or put a rack in a wok or deep pan, and fill it with 5 cm (2 in) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Carefully lower the plate with the lobster onto the rack. Turn the heat to low and cover the wok or pan tightly. Steam gently for 10-12 minutes, or until the lobster is cooked and the custard has set.

Scatter the spring onions and ginger over the dish. Heat a pan until it is very hot, then swirl in the groundnut and sesame oils. When they are smoking, pour the oils over the lobster and serve at once.

,