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What To Do With Lobsters — A Bartender Explains

By Guan Tan

 
Lobster Bloody Mary

To Japanese-born bartender Aki Eguchi, lobster shells are often discarded after the meat is retrieved. Yet, there is so much flavour in these shells. He went on to design a Lobster Bloody Mary around these shells.

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The Ingredients

 

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Bake Lobster Shells

Pop the tray full of clean lobster shells into the oven for 30 minutes.

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The Base

Drop diced tomatoes, celery, onions and leek into a pot, stir as you allow the mixture to simmer and caramelise.

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Tomato & Chipotle Pastes

When the vegetables have browned, add tomato and chipotle pastes, stir well.

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Baked Lobster Shells

Remove baked lobster shells from the oven.

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Crush Lobster Shells

Pick out the body shells and crush them into fine pieces.

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Crushed Lobster Shells

Add the crushed shells to mixture, stir well.

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White Wine

Add white wine to the mixture, followed by brandy and water. Allow mixture to simmer and thicken.

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Chipotle Paste & Tomato Juice

Later, top up with chipotle paste and tomato juice. Allow to simmer for a day. Afterwards, drain the mixture and allow to cool.

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Chill

Strain the mixture into a bottle and refrigerate. Serve on the rocks.

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Lobster Bloody Mary

Garnish with sea salt, pepper, chives, lobster meat, or a dramatic lobster tail.

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"As with every [culinary] culture, it is always the meat that is 'prized' — and it is also very expensive. I believe that the shell is actually the most underrated part of the lobster, as it packs a whole lot of flavour and aroma, and can create a really tasty broth," Aki Eguchi, bartender and bar programme director of local seafood restaurant, Humpback quips. 

The 36-year-old Eguchi was born in Yokohama, Japan — also where he kickstarted his bartending career at famed Windjammer jazz lounge at age 20.  "In Japan, we have a different kind of lobster — the ise-ebi or spiny lobster. This lobster is so fresh and clean that we eat it as sashimi," Eguchi observes that, in many culinary cultures, lobster shells are often discarded after the meat is retrieved. "Other places like France would have lobster bisque." In a lobster bisque, the lobster meat and shells are both utilised for a comprehensive flavour profile. 

It was when Eguchi chanced upon a heap of waste lobster shells in the restaurant's kitchen that got him thinking about a new cocktail recipe. He promptly borrowed from the concept of lobster bisques and designed a Lobster Bloody Mary that will draw out the profound flavours in these shells.

"Lobster has a unique flavour, similar yet different to other shellfish — aromatic, briny, and sweet. I always believe that the beauty of a lobster comes from its shell." Eguchi stresses that prior to the cooking process, home cooks should clean the shells well. Here, a recipe from Eguchi. 

Lobster Bloody Mary

Serves four to five pax
Cooking time: Split over two days

Ingredients:
5 to 7 Lobster Shells
3 Cans Tomato Juice
1 Cup Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Chipotle Paste
3 Tomatoes
3 Onions
1/2 Bunch Celery
1/2 Bunch Leek
1/2 Cup Brandy
1 Bottle White Wine

Seasoning:
Lobster Tails
A pinch of Chives
A pinch of Sea Salt
A pinch of Pepper

1. Clean lobster shells carefully, bake them in an oven for 30 minutes.
2. While baking, dice tomatoes, celery, onions, and leek.
3. Place the above in a pot, stir as you caramelise them under slow heat.
4. Add a cup of tomato paste, along with rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to the caramelised vegetables, stir well.
5. Add a quarter cup of chipotle paste to pot, stir well. 
6. After 30 minutes, remove baked lobster shells from the oven. 
7. Pick out the body shells and crush them into fine pieces. 
8. Add the crushed shell pieces into the pot, stir well.
9. Add a bottle of white wine of choice to the mixture, stir well.
10. Add half a glass of brandy of choice to the mixture, stir well. 
11. Fill up the pot with water, stir and allow mixture to simmer.
12. As the mixture thickens over the day and water levels decrease, top up with another quarter cup of chipotle paste.
13. Add two and a half cans of tomato juice, stir well. 
14. Allow the broth to simmer again. This will take a day. 
15. Remove oil floating on the surface, remove pot from heat and cool down the mixture. 
16. Drain mixture into a bottle and place it in the refrigerator to cool. 
17. Serve in a glass with ice. 
18. Garnish with a fresh chives, sea salt, pepper and top it off with a clean lobster tail and fresh lettuce, enjoy. 

On the savoury Lobster Bloody Mary, Eguchi reckons it will complement seafood dishes and sides, such as fresh oysters. He exclaims, "It's the best combination ever!"

Visit and try Aki Eguchi's Lobster Blood Mary (S$20++) at the Humpback, 18-20 Bukit Pasoh Road.