It doesn’t take much to sell a lobster. Over the years, the crustacean has become so synonymous with the high-life that customers are willing pay top dollar no matter how the dish is prepared. The truth, however, is that cooking lobster is more a delicate artform than an exact science, and calls for great care, patience, and creativity.
Luckily we have Ludo Lefebvre—the owner of Los Angeles’ Trois Mec, and the current subject of the PBS docuseries The Mind of a Chef—and his longtime mentor Alain Passard to teach us how to find the true flavor in a lobster’s flesh.
After boiling the lobster in a large post, the chefs separate the flesh from the skeleton, placing the carcass over an open fire. Once the shell is thoroughly smoked from the flames, the husk goes back in the pot, thickening the stock with the flavor of the crustacean.
An unusual technique, the proper use of fire and smoke is the key to infusing the dish with the proper natural flavor. Describing his mentor's skill with an open flame, Lefebvre expresses his admiration for Passard’s master.
Hunched over the stove, Lefebvre and Passard look more like classical composers crafting a perfect symphony than a couple of cooks. To both chefs, a dish of this quality transcends the typical paint-by-numbers approach touted by recipe books.
“No rush. No violence,” Passard says. “The creativity is endless.”