Whenever available in a fine dining restaurant, I will order a good bowl of lobster bisque to start the dinner for I love the richness of the seafood broth and the sweetness of the vegetable that go into the smooth and creamy bisque.
Although a huge fan, I have never thought of making lobster bisque at home as lobster just does not fit into the budget of home cooking unless on special occasions. But after I had discovered the stall selling fresh crayfish in our neighbourhood market, I told myself I had to cook my favourite lobster bisque at home using the smaller but equally tasty crayfish and I did just that last weekend.
The bisque is not only good on its own but also a very delicious sauce for pasta or ravioli. I cooked some linguini to al dente and tossed them in the bisque and topped with some grilled seafood and the family loved it very much! I give it a 4.5 / 5!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
4 pcs medium crayfish
0.5 kg medium prawns (about 12 pieces), peeled, deveined, head and shells reserved.
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 bay leaves, divided
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
100 ml dry white wine
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 tbsp long-grain white rice
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp saffron
2 sprigs fresh dills
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100 ml heavy cream
Remove the crayfish meat from the shell and keep the meat aside (I suggest you request the fishmonger to do this for you). The crayfish shells should be divided into 2 sections - the heads and the tails. Cut each section length wise.
Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add crayfish and shrimp heads/shells and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 bay leaf and chicken stock. Simmer gently uncovered for about 15-20 minutes. Do not bring it to a big boil.
Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until very soft. Deglaze with white wine. Add the seafood broth prepared earlier with remaining bay leaf, rice, tomato paste, saffron, dill, thyme, and ¼ tsp. cayenne.
Simmer uncovered until flavors meld and rice is soft. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the crayfish shells (leave the prawn heads and shells in the soup), dills, thyme, and bay leaf.
Working in batches, purée bisque in a blender until smooth or use a handheld blender to purée the bisque right in the pot. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean pot. Discard solids in strainer. Reheat bisque over medium heat. Add heavy cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cayenne, if desired.
Season the crayfish meat with kosher salt and fresh pepper.
Heat a large heavy-based frying pan until very hot, then add olive oil. Sear crayfish in the pan for about a minute. Add a tbsp butter and continue searing until just cooked; they should feel slightly springy when pressed. Set aside.
Place the crayfish meat in the center of large, shallow soup bowls. Ladle bisque around garnish with dill and serve.
** You may also use the bisque as pasta or ravioli sauce. To do that, add more seasoning to the bisque as the pasta relies on the sauce for its flavour.
** I seared the prawn meats from above recipe together with some scallops to make a very flavourful seafood linguine in crayfish bisque sauce. Super Yummy!