Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: The Luxe ‘Surf and Turf Burger’

Luxe Surrf and Turf Burger 1

I first reviewed Ottawa’s Luxe Bistro nearly 7 years ago and I have eaten quite a few times since. One item on their menu that caught my eye some time ago was a special burger with a patty topped with lobster meat. I had forgotten about it until I stopped in to sample some oysters on my Christmas vacation and I ended up giving it a try.

Actually, Luxe also does a ‘Lobster Poutine’ that features shoestring frites with Béarnaise sauce, cheese curds and chunks of sautéed lobster that also sounded interesting but I asked my server about both dishes and she said that, while she loved the poutine, it was a very substantial, and very rich dish… She actually shivered in a decadently delighted sort of way and said … it’s all butter! Anyway, I took that to mean it would mean an evening of dyspepsia for me if I tried to take it in on top of the Chianti I had already sampled and so I plumped for the famous ‘Surf and Turf’ Burger, only to find that it was pretty damn rich itself …

Well, the picture doesn’t do it justice, but to describe it … it is basically a beef burger, where the beef patty is slathered with bacon jam, generous amounts of chunked lobster meat are added, and the whole is drizzled with a rich, creamy Béarnaise sauce. Shredded lettuce and a thick slice of tomato are also added, but I took the last off as the assembly was already a little top heavy and looked like it would easy start shooting stuff out here and there with each bite as it was.

Well, to cut to the chase, as it were, this was probably the richest burger I have ever had and, sad to say, I couldn’t finish it. Had it been just the beef and the lobster, with perhaps just a smidgen of the sauce, I might have managed it all, but, as it was, it was all just a bit much of a muchness. One thing that really made it all a bit overpowering was that the bun (a sweet brioche type, perhaps) was grilled after being slathered with butter. I am not keen on this at the best of times but just a plain toasting over the grill would have been fine. The bacon jam was tasty in and of itself, and lent a nice smoky touch, but it was just another layer of richness that you probably don’t need with the lobster and béarnaise.

I don’t want to sound overly critical here … this is actually a pretty decent, if gimmicky idea … and, on a different occasion, I might have scarfed it down whole and enjoyed it immensely. Still, those thinking to give it a try should be aware of its utterly decadent nature … on this occasion, the sheer richness of this burger defeated me.

Posted in General, Recipes

Chilli-Basil Lobster

Chilli Basil Lobster 1

I bought some frozen cooked lobster back at Christmas-time to use in a seafood stew and I kept a couple for future use. As the ‘keep-until’ date is drawing near I decided to use one of them in the little appetizer dish you see above. In some ways, given the use of both chili and basil, the dish has a Thai flavor to it but, aside from this, it could easily be incorporated into a more western dinner menu.

After chopping the tail, claws, and main ‘arm sections’ into small pieces, I made a stock using the body and little legs, then reduced this to a very concentrated liquor of no more than a quarter cup or so. After, I fried some garlic puree in a little oil and added the stock along with a splash of sherry and some Sriracha sauce. When this was steaming, I added the lobster chunks and cooked for a few minutes until the sauce was almost a syrup then added chopped basil leaves, plating as soon as these were wilted.

This turned out to be a really nice dish. It was a bit messy to eat but sucking the sauce from the shell before teasing out the flesh from within was delightful. In a future evolution, I would like to try doing this with fresh, raw lobster as I think the result would be even more succulent than this…

Posted in Dim Sum

Dim Sum: Deep Fried Lobster Dumplings

Deep Fried Lobster Dumpling B


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I ordered this particular dim sum offering. The final character in the Chinese menu name (角) usually indicates a dumpling made with rice flour and wheat starch but these had a wrapper that was more like those used for won tons and they also had the shape of dumplings generally identified using the 餃 character.

At first, I misread the first two characters in the Chinese name as being ‘Celery’, and it wasn’t until after I placed the order that I recognized them as meaning ‘Cilantro’, which I heartily dislike. Fortunately, there was no hint of that herb (or celery either, for that matter) either visibly or in the taste.

The filling was very nice and tasty but it was little drier and less tender than I expected. I doubt the restaurant would be as fraudulent as to substitute shrimp when lobster was clearly specified, but they must have used a western variety of lobster as it clearly was not the succulent east-coast sort. To my surprise, this dim sum was served with a little dish of mayo on the side. This really didn’t appeal to me, actually, and I just used a little soy sauce which went well. The wrapper was nicely crunchy and the overall experience was quite good.

By the way, for those who are interested, the second to last character when standing alone means ‘shrimp’ but the preceding letter means dragon and, in Chinese, a ‘Dragon Shrimp’ (pronounced lóngxiā, in Mandarin) is a lobster…



Posted in Recipes

Lobster Risotto with Saffron and Truffle Oil.

Lobster Risotto 1

Before getting to any actual recipe today, I have to point out that what I call a Risotto is a type of rice dish I learned from my father and differs in a few significant ways from the strictly traditional. Essentially, a ‘true’ risotto is based on short grain (typically Arborio) rice that is first sautéed and then is cooked with stock added a little at a time until a creamy, although not quite soupy, consistency is reached. Indeed, rather than being cooked ‘al dente’ a proper risotto is said to be ‘al’onda’, or ‘to the wave’ meaning that, when the pot is tipped, or struck on the side, the surface of the rice should ripple.

My form of risotto is based on long grain rice and is, in culinary parlance, more of a pilaf. The rice is sautéed first, but I add the stock in one go and cook by the absorption method to achieve a somewhat drier result. In any event, whether you call this a risotto, or an Italian-style pilaf, with the inclusion of saffron and truffle oil and in addition to the lobster, today’s dish is going to be truly decadent… Continue reading “Lobster Risotto with Saffron and Truffle Oil.”

Posted in Recipes

Lobster Stock

Lobster Stock 1

It is always a good idea, whenever you cook lobster, to save the shells for making stock, either as a pure lobster stock, or else in combination with other seafood ‘leftovers’ such as shrimp shells or fish-bones. Some lobster stocks can be quite complex, employing many additions such as garlic, celery, tomato paste and various aromatics, for example, but for today, I am going use just the shells along with nothing else but some white peppercorns and a bay leaf. The result will be simple enough to be highly versatile, and can then be used as the base for soups, stews and sauces… Continue reading “Lobster Stock”

Posted in Recipes

Boiled Lobster (A How to…)

Boiling Lobsters 1

You can do lots of wonderful things with lobster but sometimes the simplest things are best and one of my favorite meals is a  plain boiled east-coast lobster.  As a child, I mostly ate these cold, often with little more than a roll and butter, but most people, my wife included, prefer the lobsters served piping hot with drawn butter and that is how we most commonly have them these days. We don’t often get the live creatures up here in Iqaluit very often (and they are monstrously expensive when they do get flown in) but every time we see them we have to buy….  Continue reading “Boiled Lobster (A How to…)”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes


Thanksgiving (the Canadian edition) will have come and gone by the time this gets posted but, this year, I decided to forego the rack of lamb we usually have and make a Cioppino. For those unfamiliar with the dish, this is an Italian-American seafood stew (or soup, if you prefer) created in San Franciso in the 1800’s. It combines shellfish and sometimes (but not always) fish in a rich broth containing wine and tomatoes. Regular readers of my blog may recall the review I did of the Fish Market Restaurant in Ottawa where I had a dish that they called Bouillabaisse which, while very good, was really much more of a Cioppino. I have had a hankering to cook the dish ever since then and (some months later) I finally managed to get around to it… Continue reading “Cioppino”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Simple Shellfish Stock

Since I will be making a Cioppino for tomorrow’s dinner and need some nice stock to make a base for the soup, I thought I’d do a separate post to illustrate the process for you as it is a good culinary technique to develop.

If you eat a fair amount of shellfish, you should really get into the habit of saving the shells rather than throwing them away, as they contain a lot of flavor that would otherwise be wasted. Whenever I peel shrimp, or have lobster or crab as part of a meal, I put the shells into a container in the freezer and let them accumulate until I have enough for a stock. In plenty of recipes you will see things like bottled clam juice used as an ingredient, but a nice stock made from leftover shells, and also the melt water and liquor thrown off by different shellfish, will add a richer and more complex depth to your finished dish… Continue reading “Simple Shellfish Stock”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Steam-Baked Frozen Lobster

Live lobsters are a very rare treat in our local stores. Indeed, about once, or maybe twice a year is the most we ever see them. Occasionally, cold cooked lobster appear in the display cabinets, but this is the first time I have ever seen whole frozen ones. Naturally, when these ones showed up the other day I grabbed a couple to see what they might be like.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how to cook them. I like lobster cold myself, but my wife only likes it hot and so I had to decide how to prepare them given that they had been cooked already. Dropping them into boiling water, as I would do with fresh ones, seemed a little problematic for a couple of reasons; first, I was afraid that the meat would get overly tough before the inner part was cooked and, secondly, I had no idea how much salt had been used in the first cooking before they were frozen. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with the idea of slowly baking them at low temperature with just enough liquid to create some steam… Continue reading “Steam-Baked Frozen Lobster”

Posted in Experiments

Experiment: Paella with Seafood and Chicken

Paella, for those unfamiliar with the name, is a Spanish dish, chiefly associated with Valencia that many regard as being *the* Spanish national dish. It is a rice dish, where the rice is (usually) cooked with saffron and other ingredients. The most traditional contains rabbit and snails but there are many, many variations on the basic theme and seafood Paellas, particularly those with chicken added, seem to be the most popular. A Paella is cooked in a special pan also known as a paella, or paellera. I have three and the one pictured above is my largest at about 18 inches across. Some pans are truly immense and can extend up to several feet in diameter. Continue reading “Experiment: Paella with Seafood and Chicken”