Lobster with Licorice Mascarpone & Pickled Watermelon Rind

Canoe, Toronto, John Horne / May 2013

For 10 servings (requires advance preparation)

Licorice mascarpone:

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsps. mascarpone
  • 2 Tbsps. wild coastal licorice root, grated (with juices)
  • 1/6 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • salt
  1. Whisk mascarpone in large nonreactive bowl until loosened; fold in licorice root and vanilla seeds; discard bean; season; cover with plastic wrap; reserve in refrigerator until licorice has infused mascarpone.

  2. Place mascarpone in piping bag fitted with large round tip; reserve in refrigerator.

Pickled watermelon rind:

  • 1 lb. white parts from watermelon rind
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  1. Place watermelon rind in a bowl; reserve.

  2. Bring vinegar, sugar, spices, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in large saucepan; remove from heat; pour over watermelon; cool; cover with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature overnight; reserve.

Compressed watermelon:

  • 1/2 seedless watermelon, peeled and sliced 1” thick
  • 3 to 4 oz. Pernod
  • basil leaves

Brush watermelon slices on both sides with Pernod; place a few basil leave on one side of each slice; place in vacuum-sealable plastic food bag; compress 60 seconds; reserve.

Torched lobster:

  • 5 whole lobsters, poached in fennel court bouillon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsps. star anise, fennel, cinnamon, and nutmeg,
  • toasted and very finely ground
  1. Remove lobster meat from shells; discard shells; pat meat dry; place on stainless-steel tray; reserve.

  2. Mix sugar, salt, and spices in a bowl; sprinkle spice mixture over lobsters; caramelize with a kitchen torch; cut lobster meat into bite-size pieces; reserve.

Assembly:

  • 30 baby watermelon cucumbers, sliced into various sizes
  • 2 1/2 bulbs fennel, quartered and shaved
  • coriander cress
  • seasonal flowers
  • 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. bergamot oil
  • 1 1/4 tsps. fennel pollen
  1. Remove compressed watermelon from bag; cut into thin strips and various sizes and shapes; reserve; remove watermelon rind from pickling juices; cut rinds into small dice; reserve; discard juices.

  2. To serve, pipe some licorice mascarpone into a mound on each serving plate; place compressed watermelon into mascarpone to hold it up; place torched lobster around; sprinkle pickled rind down middle of plate; garnish each plate with 3 cucumbers, 1/4 fennel bulb, cress, and flowers; drizzle each plate with 1 tsp. oil; sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. fennel pollen.

What to drink: Pearl Morissette Cuvée Dix-Neuvieme Char­donnay Twenty Mile Bench 2010 or Vincent Girardin Vieilles Vignes Chassagne-Montrachet 2008