Brazilian lobster salad January 24, 2011Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Seafood, Wolfe recipe.
Or, how I learned to stop worrying and trust Nero Wolfe.
You’d think by now I would have learned. I’ve cooked many recipes now from the Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and most are fantastic. Some are just OK – but none have been terrible. I don’t know why I was so skeptical going in, but when I read the recipe for the Brazilian lobster salad, I scoffed. “That just sounds like a fancy shrimp cocktail”, I even said. Which it kind of is – but that’s a description that really doesn’t do it justice.
I still have questions about this salad, however. Primarily: why is it called a Brazilian salad? Did Nero Wolfe ever go to Brazil? Where did he get the recipe? I’m afraid these questions may never be answered.
To start with, I sliced up some avocado, and added white wine, mustard powder, a small amount of onion, parsley and chives. I mixed this together and placed it in the fridge while I prepared the other ingredients.
Next, I prepared the mayonnaise that acted as a dressing for the salad. I’d never made mayonnaise before and confess I did not use the recipe that is provided in the Nero Wolfe Cookbook but instead turned to my Ratio app. I blended two egg yolks with water and lemon juice, then began to drizzle in oil while H whisked furiously.
After some more whisking and the addition of all the oil, I was lucky enough to have my emulsion not break, and for mayonnaise to be created.
I mixed some of the mayonnaise with tomato paste, and left the rest plain, to be mixed in with the rest of the salad later on.
Next, I prepared the meat. I must confess I didn’t use lobster meat – I went to the market all set to buy a lobster only to discover that there were none available! I settled on a nice crayfish instead, figuring that it was close enough to lobster to not dramatically affect the final recipe.
My preferred method of dealing with live lobsters or crayfish is to pop them in the freezer for a good 20-30 minutes, and prepare a pot of boiling water with lots of salt in it. When it’s boiling, I remove the critter from the freezer and dump it straight into the boiling water.
Once the crayfish was cooked, I let it cool slightly and then removed all the meat. I find it easiest to separate the tail from the body, and split the tail down the middle to extract the meat. It can also work to split the body in half and pull out the meat – although this is more fiddly than the tail.
With all the elements prepared, it was time to assemble the final salad. I placed some big leaves of lettuce in the bowl, then added some of the mayonnaise I’d mixed with tomato paste. Next I spooned on some of the avocado mix on top of the mayonnaise, and placed the crayfish on top of that. I added some of the plain mayonnaise and topped the whole thing with paprika. I added some capsicum slices on the side as a garnish.
A glorified shrimp cocktail this may be, but a shrimp cocktail this is not! While each element was nice in its own right, the combination of the crayfish with the avocado and tomato mayonnaise was brilliant. It was sweet, tangy and savoury all at the same time. The paprika on top added a nice amount of spice without being overwhelming. Overall, the thing that struck me the most about this dish was the balance. Every element was balanced so well, complimenting every other part of the dish, it was great to get a portion of every element on the fork and eat it together.
Once again, Nero Wolfe has shown me that I should trust his (and Fritz’s) judgement and not be skeptical of his recipe instructions! I have learned my lesson and will be sufficiently humble when I next approach his recipes.