Lobster With Baby Asparagus & Mango-Chilli Mousse

There's always a danger with lobster that you drown its delicate flavour with sauces and accompaniments. This frequently leads to timid options, pairing the lobster with Hollandaise sauce or with a little citrus sweetened with cream. When I was offered a pair of lobsters to take home, I was determined that I would try something more adventurous. I'd been thinking about making a mango-chilli mousse for quite a while and this was the perfect time. It worked well - despite the potency of the mousse, the flavour of the lobster was maintained. And there was an unexpected bonus because I made enough mousse to allow me to reconstitute the leftovers later... but that's another story.

Ingredients (4 portions)

For the meat and veg:
2 medium sized lobsters
20 spears of baby asparagus
black pepper
lemon-infused olive oil

For the mousse:*
1/4 cup lime juice (2 large or 4 small limes)
2 lbs ripe mango (or tinned pure mango pulp)
1 red chilli, very finely chopped**
1/4 cup sugar***
1 egg white
4 leaves unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup double cream
pinch of salt

* Note that the quantities listed here make perhaps 20 portions of mousse and are ideal if you want to put some away to use later, as I did. My photographs show these quantities. It would be very difficult to make mousse in the quantity required just for this recipe, but you can certainly scale down.
** With the chilli you need to experiment and use a type and quantity suitable for your personal taste. I used one small Scotch Bonnet, which gives a unique flavour as well as a strong pungency. Most important is to chop it very finely, so you don't end up with hot spots in the mousse!
*** Add less if your mango pulp is sweetened, a little more if using fresh fruit.


As always, the most important thing is to start with fresh, good quality ingredients. In the case of lobsters this means live until the point of cooking.

Note that all live lobsters in the UK are sold with rubber bands on their claws to protect them from each other and to protect handlers. Do not be tempted to remove these - a lobster can easily remove one of your fingers!

Click on the photo to enlarge and you will see that the crustaceans are sat on a bag of ice. The box is kept covered with a wet cloth and this provides a semi-dark, cool and damp environment that keeps the lobsters de-stressed.
This might surprise you! It's not every day that I cook with canned fruit rather than fresh, but in this instance the choice was well-justified.

This mango pulp is 92% pure mango and it worked very well in this dish. For those without direct access to fresh mangoes, this canned product is a very acceptable alternative choice.

Halve the limes and squeeze into a cup.
Now add the gelatin leaves to 1/4 cup of hot water in a bowl and allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Put the mango pulp into a bowl, stir in the sugar, the gelatin and the finely chopped chilli.
Beat the cream to soft peaks.

And beat the egg white to firm peaks.
Now fold the cream into the beaten egg white.

And then gently fold the cream and egg into the mango, sugar and chilli mixture.
You need patience here - keep folding gently until thoroughly blended. Avoid the temptation to use a blender at this stage, as this will knock out the air you've just add to the cream and albumen.

Now chill in a fridge for two hours or more, or put in the freezer for 30 minutes or so (don't allow it to freeze!)
Boil a pan of water, having previously checked that the pan is large enough to take the fully-extended lobster.

Being careful not to scald your hand, plunge the lobster into the boiling water and, a few seconds later, turn off the heat. Repeat with the second lobster in another pan.

Don't be squeamish. Although lobsters can detect the danger associated with steam and will try to take avoiding action as a basic survival mechanism, they do not experience suffering because they don't possess a central nervous system advanced enough to allow the processing of emotional information. And any squeaking sound you hear is air escaping from the shell.

As with crustaceans such as prawns, the lobster turns bright pink almost instantly in boiling water. Langoustines are an exception to this, as they are naturally pink.
Rest the cooked lobsters and allow to fully cool.

In the meantime, cook the asparagus spears. Break off the woody end sections and drop into boiling water or place in a steamer for a minute or so. When cooked to your desired degree, remove and plunge into ice water to refresh.
In the photo below I show sliced lobster tail sitting on a bed of mousse.

Other lobster meat can be better presented lightly folded into the mousse.

Extracting the flesh is no easy task. In this photo I use the back of a cleaver to crack the shell.

At the end of the day there's no substitute for washing your hands and getting stuck in!
This is how my lobster and mango-chilli mousse looked, plated up.

Asparagus spears laid on the plate, mousse spooned over and sliced lobster tail sat on top. With a little mango-chilli mousse and lemon-infused oil drizzled around.

In most restaurants the tail is served as the main element in a dish, the claw is used for presentation and the head is often used to make bisques and shellfish stocks.
My dish of lobster claw with asparagus & mango mousse