Lobster pancakes

Serves 4

These make the perfect luxurious starter with which to kick off a smart dinner party. If you don't want to splash out on lobster you could use a mixture of shellfish such as crab, prawns and mussels.

4 medium-sized pancakes
2 cooked lobsters of about 500-600g each
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
5 black peppercorns
10 fennel seeds
A couple of good knobs of butter
1tsp flour
1tsp tomato purée
A good pinch of saffron
100ml white wine
200ml fish stock
350ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp chopped chives

Remove the claws from the lobster and carefully crack the shells to remove the meat, reserving the shells. Remove the heads, squeeze the shells between your fingers and the palm of your hand until you hear the shell crack and carefully remove the meat, again keeping it as intact as possible. Crush the shells a little and place the tails in the fridge until required.

Melt a knob of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the shells with the shallots, garlic, peppercorns and fennel seeds for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the flour, tomato purée and saffron, stir well then gradually add the white wine and fish stock. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 20 minutes then add the cream, season and continue to simmer very gently for another 10 minutes. Blend about one-fifth of the shells with some of the liquid in a blender until smooth, then return to the pan and simmer for a few more minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a bowl.

To serve, slice the lobster tail meat and reheat in the sauce with the claw and leg meat. Quickly heat the pancakes under the grill then lay them on warmed plates. Spoon some of the meat and sauce to one end of the pancakes and roll them up, then spoon the rest of the meat and sauce on top and scatter with chives.

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