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Lobster in Tomato Sauce with Saffron Rice




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Lobster [or Crab] in Tomato Sauce with Saffron Rice
(Astakós Plakí)

Recipes from a Greek Island

Text © 1991 Susie Jacobs, Simon & Schuster

Rare and Out of Print Books

“Lobsters in Greece are the spiny lobsters if the Mediterranean or the Pacific,
not the large-clawed ‘homard’ of the Atlantic. This dish is delicious with either, provided they are alive or only recently killed when you buy them. Crab can also
be substituted. Serve it with the saffron rice, some crusty bread and a cucumber
salad, with fresh fruit for dessert.”

Serves 4 – 6

2 live or recently dead lobsters (about 1 3/4 – 2 pounds each)
25 strands saffron, soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 pound finely chopped onion
1 medium-sized leek, washed and finely chopped
7 – 9 tablespoons fruity olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and finely chopped
3 – 4 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil, or soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water),
pounded to a paste, or 2 teaspoons tomato purée, with the water
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup orange juice
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh fennel
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Saffron Rice [recipe follows] to serve

If you have live lobsters, plunge them into a pan of boiling water for 1 minute, then into cold water.
To prepare the lobsters, break off the claws and crack them open with a hammer. Cut off the tip of the tail (with the fins), then sever the tail where it joins the head with a heavy knife. Cut the tail into rings, slicing through the shell between the ribs.
Split the head open lengthwise with a hard blow of a knife and remove and discard the gritty stomach sac. Put the coral (if any) and the green matter (which is the liver) into a strainer over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and reserve. Put the saffron to soak.
In a heavy-bottomed pan big enough to contain the lobsters and sauce, fry the onion and leek gently in 3 tablespoons olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and liquid, wine, orange juice, and bay leaf. Season and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Add the fennel, parsley, mint, saffron and liquid, and lobster tail pieces and claws with their shells (but not the legs) and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, push the coral and liver of the lobster through the strainer and beat the purée with 4 – 6 tablespoons olive oil. When the lobster has simmered for 10 minutes, ladle out about 1 cup sauce and beat this into the coral purée. Pour this back into the pot, stir, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with saffron rice.


Saffron Rice
(Krókos Piláfi)

“This golden, beautifully perfumed rice is a simple, elegant accompaniment to
most dishes. Leave it plain to serve with lobster. At other times you might want
to sprinkle it with fresh herbs or mist it with rosewater.”

Serves 4

25 saffron threads
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Soak the saffron in 1/2 cup hot water for 10 – 15 minutes. Put the rice in a strainer and rinse under hot water until it runs clear. Then rinse again under cold water and leave to drain.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the rice. Sauté until it becomes translucent. Add 2 1/2 cups water and salt, bring to a boil, and add the saffron infusion. Stir, cover tightly, and leave to simmer on a very low heat (preferably on a heat diffuser) – for about 20 minutes, until craters form on the surface.

Stretch a piece of cheesecloth or a dish towel over the top, cover tightly with a lid, and leave in a warm corner to rest for 10 – 15 minutes. The cloth will absorb the steam from the rice and allow the grains to separate.

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Index - Seafood Recipe Archives

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