Reef And Beef

That’s what they call surf and turf in Belize, and possibly elsewhere in that region; I learned this on a dive trip there long ago. For that meal, the beef was frozen and the lobster was caught that day by our guide. In this case the lobster was frozen and the beef was fresh. This is not actually what we had for Valentine’s dinner last night, which will be another post, but was instead last Sunday’s meal. I stopped by a market on the way back from ceramics, where I’ve been working on a bunch of commissioned stuff, and in addition to the local, grass-fed sirloin they now happily carry they also had some lobster tails so I grabbed a couple to augment the fanciness quotient significantly. I’m still feeling guilty about all the cooking I did not do over the last couple of months, so I saw them as a form of crustaceous atonement.

I began by taking the remains of the risotto from the last post, forming it into little cakes, and browning them nicely in olive oil. I removed them once they were well-browned on both sides, scraped the skillet, and threw in a strip of sirloin to sear all around, pulling it out at a yielding rare. Meanwhile, I steamed the tails and threw pak choi and garlic into the steaky skillet to wilt and sautée, finishing them with tamari and cider vinegar.

For the sauce, which was admittedly the only vaguely innovative part of this meal, I made a beurre blanc with cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, and truffle oil. The goal was to make a sauce that was buttery and acidic enough for the lobster while being sufficiently sharp and truffley to act as a foil for the beef. It worked well; though the earthy and smoky note from the paprika was not a perfect match with the lobster it was faint enough that it didn’t clash too much. I also dribbled the meat juices around the plates so nothing was wasted.

As is the case with everything I’ve made lately, this inspired me to do a more refined version later: a custom saffron-curry risotto beforehand, foie gras inside the croquettes, steam the lobster in sake and herbs, a refinement of the sauce, cleaner plating. But it made for a well-received Sunday dinner on a cold evening and more than anything so far made me happy to be back on dinner duty every night. The only thing missing was a bottle of Gosset champagne from the place here in town that carries it. I’m going to pick one up this week; we have guests this weekend and if you’re all good I’ll make something special.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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