23 February 2006

Bargain Bisque

A simple man's recipe for lobster bisque? It seems like asking where
you can buy overstock diamonds at bargain prices, but it really
depends on how much of a purist you are.

There's country simple and there's city simple. I prefer to use
healthy prepared foods where it makes sense, saving my energy for
times when authenticity really counts. For rushed, weeknight cooking,
I make regular use of Imagine soups. Yes, I know that's sacrilege,
especially coming from someone who purports to be a soup nazi, but the
texture is nice and they're flavorful and healthy. Their bisque is
fine. If you want to jazz it up, you can add a little shot of cream
or a dollop of sour cream, then make a brown butter sauce and fry up
some lump crabmeat or lobster meat in it (depending on the dish) for a
heavy garnish. Garnish with chives and it's something I'd be happy to
serve at a casual dinner party.

The ingredient list for their lobster bisque looks just fine.

I did a noodle soup with the crab bisque the other day that worked
really well. I used the crab bisque (thinned with a little water),
frozen udon, chili-garlic paste, and 4 big shrimp. While the bisque
boiled, I heated a cast iron griddle to the point where I could feel
the heat radiating off it while standing a few feet away. I plunged
the frozen udon noodles (after rinsing to get the frost off them) into
the bisque. While the noodles heated and softened, I butterflied the
shrimp, rubbed them with a little oil, and plopped them down on the
griddle, butterfly side down, tails pointing up. By the time the udon
were soft, the shrimp were nicely seared. I served in a big bowl. A
scallion garnish would've been nice, too.

The first time I tried it, I took a page from another noodle soup
recipe I'd tried and put a piece of smashed gingerroot into the bisque
while it boiled. The flavors clashed. I think the best thing to do
with this recipe is to leave it as a fusion dish, with an Asian
preparation but Western flavors. If I'm going to do this one again, I
might consider thinning the bisque with clam juice (or even Clamato)
to reinforce the seafood flavor.

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