Hed Chef: White pepper lobster
White pepper lobster
This Saturday is chap goh mei, which is Hokkien for the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
All the more reason to splurge, live it up a little before rolling up your sleeves and getting down to the business of everyday life.
If you prefer a cosy intimate dinner with family or friends, try this dish of white pepper lobster. It is easy to prepare, especially if you choose to use frozen spiny lobster, like I do.
Spiny lobsters or rock lobsters don't have claws. Instead they have unusually large antennae.
If you can't get hold of lobsters or if you are on a budget, go for slipper lobsters.
For the recipe below, three tablespoons of ground white pepper pack in a fair bit of heat.
Two tablespoons will tickle your tongue, but lack that satisfying spicy kick.
- 1 whole lobster (650g)
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- A dash of pepper
- 500ml cooking oil
- 30g dry tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli)
- 3 tbsp ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp of Hua Tiao wine
- 2 drops of Chinese rose wine (optional)
- 30g ginger, julienned
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red finger chilli, deseeded and julienned
- 100ml water
- 1 tbsp of cornflour
- 3 tbsp of water
- 2 stalks of spring onion, cut into 5-cm lengths
- 1 leek (100g), finely sliced
1. Detach the head of the lobster. Twist off the legs. Set aside.
2. Using a pair of scissors, halve the lobster tail lengthwise. Quarter each half.
3. Sprinkle one tablespoon of cornflour and a dash of ground white pepper over the lobster pieces. Set the lobster aside.
4. Heat 500ml of the cooking oil in a deep frying pan or wok.
5. Test with one strand of the mung bean vermicelli. It should turn white and crisp the minute it is placed in the hot oil. Remove the strand of mung bean vermicelli and discard it.
6. Place the remaining mung bean vermicelli in the hot oil and remove once the vermicelli turns white and opaque.
7. Place the fried mung bean vermicelli on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Remove any remaining mung bean vermicelli from the wok.
8. Heat the oil for frying the lobster.
9. Gently place the pieces of lobster tail into the oil. Fry for two minutes until the meat turns opaque.
10. Remove the lobster pieces from the wok and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
11. Fry the lobster legs for three minutes. Remove from the hot oil and place them on the kitchen paper-lined plate.
12. Fry the lobster head for three minutes. Turn it over and continue to fry for another three minutes or until the head turns a bright orange colour. Remove and place it with the other lobster pieces.
13. Reserve three tablespoons of the oil used for deep-frying before discarding the rest.
14. In a bowl, mix the ground white pepper, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, salt, Hua Tiao wine and Chinese rose wine.
15. Heat the reserved three tablespoons of oil in a clean wok.
16. Fry the ginger until it begins to turn brown, and add the chopped garlic.
17. Add the fried lobster except for the head.
18. Pour the white pepper mixture over the lobster. Stir through and add the red chilli strips.
19. Add 100ml of water. Stir through for a minute.
20. Dissolve the one tablespoon of cornflour in three tablespoons of water.
21. Add the cornflour mixture to the wok. Stir-fry for another minute.
22. Turn off the heat. Add the spring onion and leek. Gently stir through.
23. Place the fried mung bean vermicelli in a layer on a serving dish.
24. Arrange the lobster head and pieces on top. Serve hot.