Lobster curry

Serves 4

This is a luxurious curry, and somewhat of a treat due to its price. The dish's base is fairly mild, as it is important that the flavour of the lobster is not overpowered.

If you prefer, you can substitute the lobster with any firm-fleshed white fish – monkfish is perfect, although it is endangered. Sea bass would work, as well – though it need not be cooked beforehand, merely added right at the end so that it is no more than just cooked through.

4 live lobsters, weighing 500g/1lb each
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 white onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 red chillies, diced with seeds left in
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
5cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind water
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk (preferably fresh, though tinned will do)
75g/3oz dried coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil; once the water is boiling vigorously, add the lobsters and cook for seven minutes, then remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. To remove the flesh from the shell, make an incision all the way down the underside of the body. Remove the flesh in one whole piece. Crack the claws gently and remove the flesh there, also in one piece if possible.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Now add the chillies, garlic, ginger, coriander and tomatoes, then turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water and cook for five minutes, then pour in the coconut milk. Raise the heat just slightly and cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low and add the lobster. Cook gently for three to four minutes, then remove. Divide the lobster in its sauce between four warmed soup plates and garnish with toasted coconut. Serve with half a lime and flat bread or jasmine rice.

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