I have recently returned from an amazing weekend in Martha's Vineyard for the Fall Festivals. It's a quaint and cozy little island that is always hopping with fishing contests, festivals and fun.
We ventured out to the other end of the island to a small fishing village to visit Larsen's Fish Market. It's a small little shack that sells fresh fish, lobster rolls, chowder and bisque. Everyone in town recommended that we stop by for a steamed lobster. We got there mid-morning and decided just to try the soup and enjoy the view. No tables, just some driftwood and barrels to sit on. It was the best lobster bisque I have ever had.
They couldn't give me the recipe - not that it's Top Secret - the owner says it depends on what's fresh for the day. Sometimes she'll use broth from steaming mussels or clams and it varies from day to day. This is a close as I could come for a great lobster bisque - now all I need is a dock and a barrel to sit on.
Vineyard Lobster Bisque
2 lobster tails, split in half
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon sea or kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter plus 1 Tablespoon
1 cup fennel, chopped
1/2 cup shallot, chopped
1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 Tablespoons raw white rice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
You will need 2 lobster tails (about 10 oz. each). It's alright to use frozen tails if fresh are not available. Make sure they are completely thawed out. Split the tails in half with a sharp knife starting at the fan and slice the knife down and through the meat.
Devein the split tail. Look for the vein along the edge of the shell, between the shell and the meat.
Steam the lobster tails, shell-side down (the shell protects the meat from the intense heat of the steam) in 4 cups salted (sea or kosher) water. Steam the tails for 5-7 minutes and reserve the steaming water for the stock.
When cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat with a fork to pull out the steamed tail meat in one piece. Chill the lobster meat until ready to use.
Sauté lobster shells in 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for five minutes to release the flavors.
Deglaze the pan with 2 cups dry white wine, 3 cups chicken stock and reserved lobster water from the steaming of the tails. Simmer until reduced to 6 cups; about 45 minutes. Then strain the shells from the stock.
While the stock is simmering prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Sauté fennel and shallot in 1/4 cup unsalted butter, about 5 minutes.
Stir in strained lobster stock, diced tomato, brandy, raw white rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme sprig; simmer 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig.
Blend the soup in batches and return to pot. Add heavy cream and 2 Tablespoon of unsalted butter. Add diced lobster meat to warm through and serve hot.