Lobster roe is often an ingredient that we use impulsively. Many times when cleaning lobsters we reserve the roe for later use and that use never comes to be. Yet on occasion, our desire to utilize the roe blossoms beyond mere frugality and yields wonderful results. In past lobster roe preparations we have put it in the blender with eggs and a bit of lime pickle and then poured hot butter on top to make lobster-lime pickle hollandaise. (An interesting side note would be to set this as a hot blanket or to dehydrate it...) We have also blended the green roe with oil for the ubiquitous lobster oil. Reflecting on the lobster roe oil, I ponder whether we could improve upon it by adding aromatics to the oil or even by smoking the roe. In that vein, we have dehydrated the roe sacs and then ground them to a powder for a flavorful and decorative seasoning for lobster dishes. Again, I wonder about smoking the roe first before dehydrating and grinding. In it's powdered form it could then be blended with some ground nuts, spices, seeds or legumes to create a more complex seasoning.
And then there was yesterday. We were making a lobster risotto for a first course for a dinner and so we had some lobster roe on hand. I set it aside in hopes of utilizing it. As the day wore on, Aki mentioned making gougeres as an hors d'oeuvre. I was ready to file the roe when I saw Aki assembling the ingredients for the gougeres. What if we added the lobster roe to these delicate puffs? The additional eggs, albeit lobster and not chicken, should not throw the recipe off. And the color change from dark green to vibrant pinkish red would make for a striking snack. Finally, the iodine and briny notes of the roe would perfume and accent the toasted flour and melted Cantal cheese in the recipe.
Aki set about making the choux paste, first melting the milk and butter and then adding the flour and stirring until a shiny ball formed. An egg by egg addition followed. Then the mystery ingredient, the roe. She added it and the dough happily accepted it, turning an interesting shade of light olive. Finally, the coarsely shredded Cantal was folded in and the dough was ready to cook or rest.
We piped dollops of dough on a sheet pan and let them bake. The most exciting aspect of the whole process for me was watching the dough change from its olive green to a vibrant pink. The smell of melting cheese, the aroma of sea air and a touch of toasting bread and melted butter did not hurt either. And when the gougeres come out of the oven, although it will be difficult, pause a moment before tasting them, they are extremely hot. I speak from painful experience.
As I watched the gougeres change colors through the oven window, my mind began to wander. What about using lobster roe in blini batter or a savory waffle? What fun results would come from making a lobster roe stained brioche or hot dog bun? A lobster frittata with a dollop of the roe would be interesting as well. And as I am on a pasta kick, what about lobster roe cavatelli? Or lobster-ricotta gnocchi? Where else can this savory ingredient make itself a star?