GUIDE GOURMET with Paul Ellis: lobster stew

OUR Guide Gourmet Paul Ellis likes nothing better than using local ingredients – and Littlehampton is still one of the best places along the south coast for buying freshly landed lobster.

Here’s his lobster stew, to serve six people.

Ingredients: two 1lb 8oz female lobsters, half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil, one large Spanish onion, cut into quarter-inch dice, two plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, two red peppers, coarsely chopped, four garlic cloves, thinly sliced, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, one bunch of Italian parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped, a quarter of a cup of brandy.

Preparation: to kill the lobsters, hold each one firmly on a cutting board with its head toward you, plunge a sharp heavy knife into the centre of the head, and quickly bring the knife down to the board, splitting the front of the lobster in half; turn it around and cut it completely in half.

Pull off the tails, and then pull off the claws, if using Maine lobsters. Slice the tails into half-inch medallions, cutting through the natural segments in the shells. Remove the roe from the heads and reserve; remove and discard the head sacs and tomalley.

Cooking: heat six tablespoons of the olive oil in a paella pan or a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the lobster heads, claws if you have them, and tailpieces and sauté for one minute, or until they turn red.

Transfer the heads and claws to one bowl and the tail pieces to another. Add the onion, tomatoes, peppers, and half the garlic to the pan and cook until softened, in eight to 10 minutes.

Add eight cups of water, bring to the boil, and season with salt and pepper. Add the lobster heads and claws and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tail pieces and cook for three to five minutes, until opaque throughout. Remove the stew from the heat and allow to rest while you make the sauce.

Combine the reserved roe, the remaining two tablespoons of oil, the remaining garlic, the parsley, and brandy in a mortar and mash to a loose paste with the pestle. Add to the stew and stir well, then check for seasoning and serve.

* Paul Ellis lives in Littlehampton. He has worked with many leading chefs and also runs courses with his Thyme and Thyme Again Cooking School.