By David McMillan, Chef-Owner at Joe Beef with David McMillan, Frédéric Morin & Marc-Olivier Frappie
A long time ago, when I worked at Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, I fell in love with one of their menu mainstays—cold Dungeness crab with nasturtium mayonnaise.
I couldn’t get enough of that dish. Many years later—one summer, at Joe Beef—I noticed that our nasturtiums were taking over the patio garden. So I started I talking to Fred about all the things we could do with them, like nasturtium leaves wilted like spinach, creamed nasturtiums, nasturtium capers—and the actual tubers, which I have still only ever eaten at Sooke. All the talk provoked Marco (Marc-Olivier) to action, and he headed off to the kitchen. There, we always have lightly poached lobster on hand for our lobster pasta—as well as lobster-chicken broth, which we use for toning down the richness of its cream sauce. Marco had heard me go on about that shellfish-nasturtium combination at Sooke. So, with that in mind, he put together a bowl of lobster-infused chicken broth, heaped with shelled lobster, wilted nasturtiums and a little diced pied de porc, and brought it to us. Ever since at Joe Beef, when the nasturtiums are in season, we eat the dish with colleagues and friends whenever we feel like sitting down for something simple and satisfying. Often, it makes me think of Sooke.
– David McMillan
- 1 good-sized lobster, about 1 kg (2 lb)*
- 1 L (about 4 cups) white chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp diced, cooked pigs’ trotter meat (or blanched diced salt pork)
- 2 large handfuls nasturtium leaves
Bring a large pot of court bouillon (or just salted water) to boil. Plunge in the lobster head first, cover, and turn off heat. After eight minutes, remove lobster to a bath of iced water. Shake dry, and shell. Cover and reserve lobster meat in the refrigerator until needed. Reserve tomalley for another purpose (along with the roe, if there is any). Remove the carapace from the body, and rinse well under cold running water, along with all the other pieces of shell. In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat, reduce to low, add lobster shells and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a fresh pot and return to a simmer over low heat. Add the diced pork, and follow with the nasturtium leaves. As soon as they begin to wilt, add the lobster meat and stir until just heated through—no more than a minute. Taste, correct seasonings, and serve in large, warm bowls.
* Chef’s note: This is a versatile concoction. You can replace the lobster with poached chicken, sliced mushrooms (try cauliflower mushrooms), crab meat, or whatever else you feel like. (Adjust the infusion of chicken stock accordingly.) Nasturtiums are not for everyone. But in my experience, once you eat enough of them, you will crave them always. – D.M.