Chef-Worthy Recipe: Lobster Thermidor With Bechamel Sauce

Lobster thermidor
Armand Sciberras / Getty Images
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings
Ratings (4)

In this classic seafood recipe, lobster is combined with a bechamel sauce flavored with wine, shallots, tarragon, and mustard. The mixture is placed back into the lobster shell, topped with Parmesan cheese.

There is controversy over just which chef invented lobster thermidor, but this recipe, credited to Tony Girod, the chef at the famed Cafe de Paris in Paris in the late 19th century, is regarded as a strong candidate. This recipe is taken from "James Beard's New Fish Cookery." 

What You'll Need

  • 1 lobster (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup bouillon (fish or meat stock)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots (or green onions)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (or chervil and tarragon)
  • 1 cup bechamel sauce (follow link for recipe)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, mixed with 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter

How to Make It

  1. Split the live lobster in half.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. 
  3. Bake it in a 425 F oven for about 18 minutes. Baste during the cooking with additional olive oil.
  4. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the body and claws and dice it.
  5. Combine the wine, broth, shallots, and tarragon.
  6. Cook until the mixture is reduced to practically a glaze.
  7. Add this to the sauce bechamel and stir in the cream mixed with the egg yolks.
  1. Allow this to heat without boiling.
  2. Add the mustard and taste for seasoning. When the sauce is well thickened, add the lobster meat and heat through.
  3. Fill the lobster shells with this mixture, sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese, brush with melted butter and brown in a 375 F oven.

Variations
The American version of this recipe omits the mustard and tarragon and adds sauteed mushrooms and a little sherry. Here is a quick version: Make a cream sauce and flavor it with sherry and plenty of mustard. Arrange frozen lobster meat in an ovenproof dish, add the sauce, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and brown in the oven.

New Year's Eve Menu

Lobster thermidor is a fancy dish worthy of the biggest and most glam party night of the year. Whether it's just you two or a few of your best friends along to bring in the new year, this is a festive plan. Along with some fancy starters of your choice, serve the lobster with cheesy potatoes or pasta accented with mushrooms, garlic, and green onions or shallots. Crusty garlic toast and a green salad dressed with a mustard vinaigrette to harmonize with the lobster finish the menu. End with chocolate mousse or napoleons. And of course, the wine of the night is Champagne. Happy New Year!