Jan asked for crab bisque for Christmas Eve dinner—she saw a recipe in this week’s food section. Chris is down south, so Miriam is coming over and we will be celebrating just a bit early—the last Hobbit movie and a nice dinner. To make it special, Jan also asked me to add some lobster to the bisque. Miriam’s request for this holiday meal is for potato latke and as a green we have agreed upon a carrot and spinach salad.
When I was researching crab cakes, many of the recipes called for Old Bay Seasoning. One of the local food trucks sells Old Bay Fries and I thought they were pretty good. I decided to get some and try it in my bisque recipe. I went very light on it, but the flavors were very good. I plan to use a bit more in this recipe.
Note: Although Jan and Miriam liked the extra seasoning, I felt it overpowered the crab and lobster. In the recipe below I have left the amount to the original light seasoning. If you want to make OB Seasoning yourself, there are several deconstructed recipes for this blend online and this seems the most accurate.
Many recipes for bisque use a lot of cream to achieve its signature silkiness. Jan has restrictions on how much fat she can consume—without getting fairly sick. I have spent years trying to get that creaminess without the fat. In my last bisque, I used barley as the starch and to make the broth a bit thicker. The other recipe in the food section that day was for a rice porridge with crab. I thought that if I ground up some rice in my spice grinder I could get the creamy thickness of a rice porridge, without the hour it takes to overcook the rice.
Karl’s Crab and Lobster Bisque
2 Dungeness crab (about 4-5 lbs. with the shells)
2 small lobster tails (about 8 oz. without the shells)
2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup yellow carrot, grated
1 cup celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
32 oz. fish stock
2 tsp.+ Old Bay Seasoning
½ cup brown Jasmine rice
½ cup cream (or half and half)
splash Marsala wine
¼ cup red bell pepper, diced finely
1. Remove the meat from the crab and reserve, covered, in the refrigerator. Break the shell into small-ish pieces.
Tip: Do your best to keep the crab meat in as large of pieces as possible.
2. Put the shells in a medium pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: I has some raw shrimp shells from yesterday’s dinner, which I added to the pot.
3. Strain and reserve the crab stock.
4. Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onions and salt, until they are just starting to brown.
5. Add the carrot and celery and continue sautéing for 5 minutes, until soft.
Tip: I use yellow carrots in this recipe, because I do not want the color that orange carrots would add making my soup darker.
6. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
7. Add the crab stock to the pot and bring to a boil.
8. When the stock and vegetables have come to a boil, rinse the lobster tails and add them to the pot.
Tip: Leave the shells on the lobster tails.
9. Reduce the heat and cook the lobster for 7 minutes.
10. Remove the lobster tails and put them in cool water to prevent them from overcooking.
11. Continue simmering the soup for another 15 minutes.
12. When the tails are cool, remove the meat and chop it into bite sized pieces.
13. Add the lobster to the reserved crab meat.
14. Put the rice in a spice grinder and process it to a powder.
15. Put the rice powder in a bowl and stir in some cold fish stock.
16. Let the soup cool slightly. Place it in a standing blender and puree.
17. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the fish stock, Old Bay Seasoning and rice slurry.
Tip: Start with 2 teaspoons of the Old Bay Seasoning. Find the seasoning level that is right for you. You may always add more later, but you cannot take any out.
18. Simmer, covered, for 30+ minutes. Stir frequently until the rice has fully overcooked and thickened the soup.
Tip: The rice powder will tend to settle to the bottom of the pot. You must mix the rice back in to the soup often or it will stick to the bottom of the pot, scorch, and spoil the bisque.
19. Stir in the cream, a splash of Marsala wine, and the reserved crab and lobster.
Tip: Be gentle with stirring in the crab. Try not to mash it into bits.
20. Simmer the bisque for two or three more minutes, to heat the meat through, and serve.
21. Garnish the individual bowls with a touch of the diced red pepper.
Tip: You may also serve oyster crackers or with fresh crackers with the soup.