BACK in the days when I was in charge of the hot fish section in The Savoy kitchens, I must have seen, and cooked, more lobsters than even the fish at the bottom of the ocean would come across.
Although feedback wasn’t what it is today, we knew when we were cooking for royalty or celebrities and there was always plenty of each in the house.
By feedback, I mean that the chef (or maitre chef des cuisines to give him his correct title) would, I’m sure, have been informed that Her Majesty was very happy with her dinner, or not, and that Frank Sinatra was enjoying his Steak Haché in his private suite.
This feedback rarely ever found its way back to the bloke who had cooked the meal, unless of course it was a negative.
There was, however, and may still be for all I know, a fair amount of snobbery in the kitchen, whether it be rivalry with other West End establishments, or simply verbal derision as to the notion of our patrons eating the prime cuts ‘bien cuit’, or – cherish the thought – Lobster Thermidor and Chips!
The ordinary foot soldiers in the kitchen would never have known much of this detail, as the hotplate was as long as a football pitch and was manned by four sous chefs evenly spaced along it.
As the waiters came to collect the meals, the sous chefs would call out to the various sections for the required dishes. Hence, the fish cook would have no idea that the portion of Pommes Frites were accompanying the lobster he had just set down on the hotplate.
I was probably as guilty of being part of this, on both sides of the hotplate, so what was I thinking when I was offered some lively Norfolk lobsters the other day and decided that I would offer them in the restaurant as Grilled Norfolk Lobster with Chips and Béarnaise?
Here’s a simple way to do this yourself using cooked lobsters, although I will happily email anybody who wants a method of grilling lobsters from raw. I haven’t included it, as some might not appreciate the method of preparation.
2 x 500g lobsters
1) Cut the lobsters in half lengthwise and remove the dark strip running through the tail and discard.
2) Crack open the claws and knuckles and remove the meat from these.
3) Remove all the meat from the shells and wash the shells thoroughly under running cold water.
4) Cut the meat into bite-size chunks and arrange these in the shells.
5) Brush the lobsters with melted butter and place under a hot grill, until heated through and slightly crispy on top.
6) Meanwhile, prepare your Béarnaise sauce (as previously covered in this column) and fry your chips.
7) Serve with a nice crisp Provençale rose, such as Château La Mascaronne Quat’ Saisons Rosé 2012. Or, get the whole deal with us at Friends. Email me at email@example.com