Lobster Thermidor: An All-Time Classic
Few seafood dishes have captured the world’s imagination like Lobster Thermidor, and for good reason. This classic French recipe combines tender chunks of succulent lobster meat with a creamy, cheesy sauce and a touch of paprika for an explosion of flavors in every bite.
Originating in the late 19th century, Lobster Thermidor was named after a popular play by Victorien Sardou. The play, which tells the story of a woman who seeks revenge on her former lover, was set in France in the 1830s. It is said that the dish was created by a famous Parisian restaurant, ready to serve to guests in the intermission of the play.
Lobster Thermidor quickly became a sensation among the Parisian elite, and it was soon exported to other fine dining establishments around the world. Today, it remains a hallmark of French cuisine and is served in many of the world’s most prestigious restaurants.
Making Lobster Thermidor may seem intimidating at first, but with few ingredients and a bit of patience, it can be easily accomplished at home. This recipe involves sautéing lobster meat in butter, preparing a roux with flour and cream, whisking in white wine, Parmesan, and Gruyere cheeses, and seasoning it with paprika and spices. Then, the mixture is packed into the reserved lobster shells and baked to perfection in the oven.
Whether it’s a special occasion or just a treat-yourself kind of day, Lobster Thermidor is always a good idea. Savor it with a glass of white wine, garnished with fresh parsley and served with lemon wedges for a burst of refreshing flavor. Bon appétit!
Ask the Chef: Pro Tips for making Lobster Thermidor
Choose Fresh Lobsters
Always start with the freshest lobster possible. Fresh lobster meat should be firm and should have a sweet smell. Avoid lobsters with an ammonia-like odor, as this is a sign that the lobster is past its prime. Additionally, make sure that the lobster is alive before cooking it, and kill it quickly and humanely.
Protect Your Fingers!
Lobster shells can be sharp and difficult to handle, especially when cutting them. Protect your fingers by using oven mitts or gloves when handling the hot shells and meat.
Be Careful When Making the Roux
When making the roux, make sure to stir it constantly to avoid any lumps of flour. If you don’t cook the roux long enough, your sauce will have a raw flour taste, so be sure to give it 1-2 minutes to cook before adding the liquids.
Choose the Right Cheeses
Good-quality aged Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses are essential for this dish. Avoid using pre-shredded cheese as it does not melt as well and can make for a grainy sauce. Grate the cheese yourself to ensure the best flavor and texture.
Season to Taste
Season the dish with salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste. Remember that the lobster and cheese can be quite salty already, so be careful not to oversalt. Paprika adds a nice color and smokiness to the dish but use it in moderation.
Garnish with Fresh Herbs and Citrus
Sprinkle fresh parsley over the top of the Lobster Thermidor once it’s cooked and add a wedge of lemon to bring out the flavors in the dish. Fresh herbs and citrus add brightness, aromatics, and balance to the richness of the dish.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave, being cautious not to overcook the lobster.