At Pesce, on P Street NW, chef Tom Meyer used the lobster to create a very dressed-up version of a soup, salad and sandwich combo. (And yes, he cheated a little by making a lobster stock from the shells and subjecting his sandwich filling to a quick saute.) The result: lobster tomato chowder in a demitasse cup, a mound of salad topped with slices of lobster tail and a tiny sandwich tower, with each layer of lobster cake topped by a slice of heirloom tomato.
After taking the lobster apart, Meyer saved part of the tail meat to slice medallions for the top of the salad, took meat from one claw to go into the soup and chopped up the rest for the lobster cake.
To make sure all three components would be ready at the same time, he started by making stock. That meant lightly browning the shell in oil; deglazing the pan with a little white wine; adding a finely diced mirepoix of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, minced bay leaf, parsley and thyme until they caramelized; and adding a cup of tomato sauce. Using a ratio of one part white wine to three parts water or fish stock, he added enough liquid to cover the shell and vegetables and cooked it for about five minutes. Later, the corn kernels and a piece of lobster tail would go in the soup.
Since the trio wouldn't work if each element tasted the same, Meyer chose contrasting flavors. In the lobster cake, he used Japanese rice seasoning ("Old Bay is a good substitute," he told us), lemon juice, finely chopped chives, two tablespoons of bechamel sauce (now that really was cheating, but he swore regular mayonnaise would work just as well), Japanese panko bread crumbs (but a home cook could use toasted bread crumbs), salt and pepper.
He'd already toasted some multigrain bread and cut it into two-inch squares. So, using a metal ring, he patted the lobster-cake mix into two-inch circles before browning them just a little in olive oil. He spread mayonnaise on the toast, and just before serving, formed the sandwich by alternating toast, lobster cake and slices of heirloom tomato into a tower.
The salad got a sweeter treatment: a mix of watercress, grated daikon radish and some chopped avocado was dressed with a ginger vinaigrette, assembled atop a circle of mango sauce (made from adding a little vinegar to bottled mango puree) and crowned with the lobster medallions and bits of pink grapefruit.
And it all took 40 minutes. Really.
-- Judith Weinraub