This lobster noodles recipe is definitely a great representation of the brilliance of Chinese Cantonese haute cuisine. Most non-Chinese have an inaccurate idea of Cantonese cuisine because of the low quality take-away food Cantonese immigrants in western Europe and north America have been churning out.

However, only the poorest of the poor migrate. Cantonese haute cuisine hence is not within the reach of a normal European or American. Hongkong and Guangzhou are two great cities where renown Cantonese chefs produce world-class dishes everyday. If you happen to be in the region, check into a high-class Cantonese restaurant and you’d be pleasantly surprised: the taste, quality and texture of the Chinese Yue Cuisine (the formal name of Cantonese haute cuisine) are unsurpassed  where the Cantonese fare you get elsewhere are nothing compared to it.

This dish displays three great elements of Cantonese cuisine: the lobster, the simmering, and the special egg noodles called “Yi Min” 伊面.

– First, the lobster. Fresh seafood is one of, if not THE cornerstone of Yue cuisine. So much that Cantonese people must have a tank in their restaurants where they eat freshly-slaughtered fish, crabs or lobsters. For this recipe, you have to procure a live lobster. I have written a second recipe if this is not possible in your country.

– Second, the simmering. The verb is ’men’ 焖, and there is no equivalent for this word in the English language. The right component of the word means “stuffy” while the left component means “fire”. “Men” is a method of cooking where an ingredient is trapped in a stuffy environment (i.e. covered in a pot) and is absorbing flavours from the elements around it, typically flavoursome meat or broth, while simmering away on low heat.

 

– Last but not least, the special egg noodles called Yi Min or Yi Fu Min’ 伊府面, 伊面. It is the precursor of the modern instant noodles. Invented in the southeast region of China, Yi Min is fresh egg noodles deep-fried lightly in oil to be stored away for later use. Unlike other forms of noodles, you do not cook Yi Min in boiling water then drain dry, you cook it in the broth using the ’men’ method stated above, so that instead of absorbing just water, the fried egg noodles absorb the flavoursome broth. Try NOT to use normal dry non-fried egg noodles if you cannot find Yi Min. The other noodles will diffuse starch and flour into your broth rendering it useless. I too cannot find Yi Min here in Belgium. What I did was to use this brand of pre-fried egg noodles manufactured in the Philippines. The taste is completely different from authentic Yi Min, but at least it does not destroy my broth.

Ready? So here goes!

 

 

Ingredients:

 

 

Serving: 2 persons

Instructions:

  1. Boil a pot of water together with fresh ginger and spring onion. Once water is boiling, place your lobster in and cover. After 10 minutes (not more), turn the fire off and take out your lobster. Leave it to cool. Open your lobster, take out the flesh in the body and tail, as well as in the pincers. Do not crush the shells as you will need those later for display.
  2. Set the flesh aside.
  3. Put the shells back into the broth, cover and simmer on low heat for about an hour. Discard the ginger and spring onion. Take out the shells and set those aside.
  4. Heat up your wok with oil on medium heat. First stir-fry your minced ginger until fragrant, then in goes the minced garlic. Then while continuing your stir-frying, in goes the carrots, then snow peas, then the mushrooms. Add 2tbs Shaoxing rice wine, mix well. Then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to boil.
  5. Once the broth in the wok is boiling, add in your noodles, and turn to low heat and cover. After about 10 minutes (not more), check whether the noodles have started to soften. Yi Min tends to have a tough springy texture and is best eaten al dente. Serving gooey Yi Min is considered having bad culinary skills.
  6. Once your Yi Min has the desired texture, take it out with a thong or chopsticks and place it on a serving plate, that is slightly concave for the broth later.
  7. Now add light soy sauce, salt and the rest of the rice wine to the broth in the wok to taste. Once it is to your taste, add in the egg white while stiring the broth to produce tiny ‘white clouds’. Once done, moisten your corn starch with some water in a bowl and slowly stir that in to thicken the broth.
  8. Now, take out your lobster meat and add it to the thick gravy.
  9. Pour the hot gravy onto your noodles.
  10. Decorate the dish with the empty shells. Serve.

 

 

Alternative recipe:

Sometimes, it is either impossible or too expensive to get fresh lobsters, only cooked lobsters are sold. This is really annoying because it is the water in which the lobster is cooked that produces the broth needed for the gravy. So instead of a fresh lobster, you can use a frozen lobster and a can of crabmeat for this alternative recipe.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Crack open your cooked lobster, take out the flesh in the body and tail, as well as in the pincers. Do not crush the shells as you will need those later for display.
  2. Set the flesh aside.
  3. Open your can of crabmeat. Drain the crabmeat and pour the liquid into a pot. Set the meat aside.
  4. Add water into the pot together with fresh ginger and spring onion. Once water is boiling, put the lobster shells back into the broth, cover and simmer on low heat for about an hour. Discard the ginger and spring onion. Take out the shells and set those aside.
  5. Heat up your wok with oil on medium heat. First stir-fry your minced ginger until fragrant, then in goes the minced garlic. Then while continuing your stir-frying, in goes the carrots, then snow peas, then the mushrooms. Add 2tbs Shaoxing rice wine, mix well. Then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to boil.
  6. Once the broth in the wok is boiling, add in your noodles, and turn to low heat and cover. After about 10 minutes (not more), check whether the noodles have started to soften. Yi Min tends to have a tough springy texture and is best eaten al dente. Serving gooey Yi Min is considered having bad culinary skills.
  7. Once your Yi Min has the desired texture, take it out with a thong or chopsticks and place it on a serving plate, that is slightly concave for the broth later.
  8. Now add only the crab meat into the broth.
  9. Then add light soy sauce, salt and the rest of the rice wine to the broth in the wok to taste. Once it is to your taste, add in the egg white while stiring the broth to produce tiny ‘white clouds’. Once done, moisten your corn starch with some water in a bowl and slowly stir that in to thicken the broth.
  10. Now, take out your lobster meat and add it to the thick gravy.
  11. Pour the hot gravy onto your noodles.
  12. Decorate the dish with the empty shells. Serve.

Hope you enjoy this marvellous and delicious Cantonese dish! If you have any question, feel free to write to me. If you have any requests for recipes, do also let me know!

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