Who does not like crayfish bisque? Namibian Crayfish or West Coast rock lobsters (Jasus lalandii) is indigenous to Namibia and the West coast of southern Africa. It is a highly sought after ingredient. Most of the national catch is exported, therefore it is a difficult ingredient to source. Recreational harvesting of crayfish is allowed only from 1 November to 30 April and all crayfish must be 65 mm carapace length. The most common method for preparing crayfish, is to boil it for a few minutes in seawater right there on the beach. Crayfish bisque uses all parts of the crayfish, even the shells. Early bisque recipes call for the shells to be ground to a paste and then for the paste to be used to thicken the soup. Nowadays chefs use rice.
Crayfish BisqueCourse: Starter, Main, Lunch, DinnerCuisine: Namibian, FrenchDifficulty: Moderate
Crayfish bisque is a creamy soup made from West Coast Rock Lobsters or Crayfish as they are better known in Namibia. Harvesting the crayfish from the very cold Atlantic ocean is part of the fun.
4 crayfish (lobsters), weighing about 1.5 kgs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons tomato puree or paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish stock
½ cup white rice
1 cup cream
cayenne pepper, to taste
- Fill a large pot with 3 centimetres of water and bring to a boil. Add the crayfish, cover with a tight-fitting lid and return the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook the crayfish until they are bright red, about 10 minutes. Remove the crayfish, reserving the liquid. When they have cooled slightly, place them in a bowl and remove the meat from the tail, again reserving any liquid that comes out of the shells. Chop the meat and refrigerate. Roughly chop the shells into small pieces and reserve, along with all the crayfish remains.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the vegetables and herbs. Sweat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high and add the crayfish shells and remains. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, then add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the wine, then cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Add fish stock and 1 cup of the lobster-cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour.
- Strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids to extrude as much liquid as possible. Wipe out the pot and pour in the broth. Add the rice and cook for at least 30 minutes, or until the grains are cooked to extreme softness.
- Blend the bisque in a food processor or blender, then pass through a fine sieve, again pressing down hard on what solids remain. Add the cream and bring to a low simmer. Add the chopped lobster meat, let it heat through, then season to taste with salt and cayenne.