In the late nineties, Andrea Bocelli came to Lebanon to perform inBeit Eddine, a historic palace in the Shouf mountains. My dad, who never missed a concert with opera in it, invited us to join him. I was stunned to hear the audience, composed mainly of twenty year-olds, singing along in Italian, at the top of their lungs, all of Bocelli’s opera songs!
Here is a simple fish soup to which I added some pizzazz with lobster and shrimp. I just get excited about these two and not so much about plain fish, not you? It is easy too, the fishmonger will graciously kill the lobster for you and split its carcass in half. So what is left? make the stock!
This soup has tahiniin it. So if you hate the taste of tahini, sorry, this is not for you. Tahini in Lebanese cuisine is what crème fraîcherepresents to the French; it is fundamental! Used both for savory and sweet things.
INGREDIENTS: 6 servings
- 1 lobster (about 2 pounds in weight)
- 1 pound of shrimp (large)
- 1 pound of tomatoes
- 1 cup of diced carrots
- 1 cup of diced celery
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon of mashed garlic
- olive oil
Spice mix: 1/2 teaspoon of each of: saffron, cardamom, paprika or cayenne, black pepper; salt, to taste.
- peel of an orange
- tahini, 2 or 3 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup of fresh Seville orange juice (or lemon)
- chopped parsley, for garnish
- Ask the fishmonger to steam the lobster and separate the flesh from the carcass and cut the carcass in half lengthwise. You want the head to be opened up because it is where the flavor is.
- Dice carrot, celery and onion. Mash the garlic in a mortar with a dash of salt.
- Assemble all the dry spices. Juice the oranges or lemons. Boil the tomatoes for 15 seconds and peel and dice them or use a can of diced tomatoes.
- Peel the shrimps: keep the peels aside to use for the stock and leave the shrimps in a bowl of cold water in the fridge.
- Peel the orange and set the peel aside.
- Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pan. Add the carrots, onion and celery and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the lobster carcass, making sure the head is facing the oil and vegetable mixture. Fry the lobster carcass for a few minutes until the fragrance is wafting out of the pan. Add the shrimp peels and about 8 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble up gently for about 30 minutes.
Take a break!
NOTE: Don’t forget to stir the tahini before pouring, to mix the oil and the paste thoroughly.
- Strain the stock through a sieve into a bowl. Heat the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced tomatoes and all the dry spices. Fry for 3 minutes until fragrant. Cover with the lobster and shrimp stock, add the orange peel, garlic and cover. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pan. Add the orange juice and tahini (you can also mix the two well beforehand). Then, use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to puree the sauce until it looks smooth and creamy.
- Add the raw shrimps to the stock and let them cook in it for about 5 minutes till they turn pink.
- Add the cooked lobster, previously cut in smaller pieces.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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