A Canadian lobster. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel)
For seafood aficionados, lobster is a fancy for its tender meat texture that is open to culinary adventure.
It usually comes in a satisfying size, just right for dinner, while the shell-cracking experience that accompanies its consumption only adds to its great taste.
In Xin Hwa restaurant, this month fresh Canadian lobsters have been chosen as the star plate.
Chef Jeff Lee San Weng uses four different recipes and cooking techniques to show various ways of enjoying lobster in the Cantonese restaurant. The chef, who specializes in modern Chinese cuisine, said that cooking lobster was not too difficult as long as the large marine crustacean was fresh.
“The best seafood is very fresh and still alive. Indonesian customers like it spicy, so I do different menus for them,” he said.
While the set menu in the restaurant uses local lobster, chef Lee said the use of Canadian lobster in the special menu made a difference because it was bigger in size and had a stronger flavor.
During my recent visit to the restaurant, I began with oven-baked lobster with cheese and a spicy XO sauce. The lobster, showered with melted cheese, did not have a dominating flavor and still retained the juicy texture that was mild and harmless to sensitive taste buds.
Coming next was steamed lobster with homemade ginger puree, which was served in a small bowl. The succulent lobster was refreshing and strong, sweeping the mouth with fresh flavor of ginger and soy sauce.
Lee said the ginger puree was made based on the same traditional recipe of ginger sauce in Hainan chicken rice, but he used olive oil and looked for a balance in the recipe. The green color came from the spring onion, which was mashed with coriander and ginger.
“Put a little bit of ginger puree on top of the lobster meat and place it in the steamer. After that, we put in the soya and it’s done,” he said.
The star of the menu was crispy-fried lobster with salted egg yolk. A delicious aroma was smelt when the waitress was about to put the plate on my table. The texture was nice and the taste was superb. The lobster meat had a crunchy cover that combined very well with the creamy salted egg yolk.
Lee said the egg yolk was steamed first before being chopped and stirred with butter and a bit of salt and onion. He did not put any additional ingredients in the lobster, which was blanketed with mix flour before being fried.
The last on the menu, the Canadian live lobster with spicy chili-tomato sauce served with homemade mantou, represented common traditional Chinese food. The sweet and sour sauce had a manageable spiciness and was stirred with egg white.
Lobsters, whether steamed, boiled, baked, roasted, fried or cooked with other ingredients, are always a wonderful culinary journey. Never get complacent, choose your favorite technique or search out new culinary experiences with other cooking recipes.
Xin Hwa restaurant
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Jl. M.H. Thamrin
Phone +62 (21) 2993 8825