Monday, March 29, 2010

Lobster Sotanghon with King Trumpet Mushrooms and Fried Garlic chips

This is a dish that my mother made up during one her visits to San Francisco.  She loves to shop at the Asian grocery stores on Clement Street and is always lauding about how much fresher and cheaper all the produce, meats and seafood are compared to Los Angeles.  During one particular visit when I got home from work she seemed particularly thrilled with that day's shopping. "Look, I got this lobster for half the price of a live one.  It is still fresh and would be perfect for.." and her voice trails away, a dreamy look softening her features.  "Lobster sotanghon!"  

My version uses a slightly different cooking technique for the lobster foie gras, which is the best way I can describe those yummy edibles found in the lobster head.  In a wok I heat up olive oil where I saute about three clove of garlic with baby celery, then add the lobster foie gras which takes on a nice almost translucent jade quality.  I reserve this then add the mushrooms.  King trumpets seem to have a lot of liquid and when sauteed in the same pan, a type of creamy gravy develops after only a few minutes.  

In a seperate pot (I prefer using a dutch oven)  I make a broth from sauteed shallots, a whole head of crushed garlic and the chopped lobster (shells and all) which I fry up before adding water.  I am careful not to overcook the lobster meat but at the same time, extract as much flavor from the shells to enrichen the broth. I remove the lobster and add the broth to the wok with the sauteed mushrooms. I season to taste with a little fish sauce, sea salt and pepper.  Turning up the heat, I add sotanghon noodles as the broth comes to a rapid boil.  I mix in the reserved lobster foie gras when the noodles are half cooked along with chopped baby ong choi (with the yellow flowers) and the lobster meat and shells.

Arranging the lobster artfully on the platter with fried garlic chips elevates an everyday noodle dish.  The sotanghon swells with the essence of the lobster broth, the mushrooms absorb the flavor of the fried lobster foie gras and mimics the mouth feel of the lobster meat itself.  A squeeze of lemon adds freshness.  Filipinos typically eat noodles with a little bit of rice.  The sotanghon is so flavorful that in this case, rice is recommended.

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