Bisque is a culinary method that brings out the full flavor of crustaceans that may not meet market standards. In a classic bisque, the shells are finely ground into a paste, which is then used to thicken the soup. Despite having obtained perfect crayfish, I wanted to explore the art of making a bisque. Here is my interpretation of a delightful crayfish bisque.
The crayfish I used is Cape rock lobster, also called West Coast rock lobster and goes by the scientific name of Jasus lalandii. My recipe is based on one I found here, with some small adjustments.
- 2 whole, large crayfish
- ½ onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 2 liter water
While the crayfish is still raw, carefully detach and set aside the tails.
Crush the crayfish legs, open the carcass, and remove the lungs and other organs. Discard the lungs and organs, but keep the carcass and legs.
In a large, heavy pot, combine water, onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt. Bring it to a boil and add the carcass and legs. Let it simmer for 2 hours.
Strain the stock, discarding the carcass and bones.
Prepare a bowl filled with water and ice.
Bring the stock to a boil again and add the crayfish tails. Cook them for 7 minutes, then transfer the tails to the ice water.
Allow the tails to cool in the ice water, then remove them, peel off the shells, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Reduce the stock until you have approximately 1 liter left. Set it aside for later use.
- 60g butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 carrots, cleaned and chopped
- 2 stalk celery, chopped with leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 50g tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp corn flour
- 350ml pale dry sherry
- 2 bay leafs
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 250ml heavy (double) cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 liter of the above stock
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Freshly chopped chives for garnish
Heat the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until they become tender, approximately 7 minutes.
Stir in garlic and tomato paste, cooking for an additional couple of minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant and the vegetables are coated in the tomato paste. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and cook for another minute.
Pour the stock and sherry into the pot, and add the bay leafs and thyme sprigs. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for approximately 30 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce. Stir occasionally.
Remove the bay leafs and thyme from the pot. Blitz the mixture to a smooth and creamy purée using a stick blender. Return the pot to medium-low heat and stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice and crayfish meat. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Cook gently until the bisque is warm, about 5 minutes.
Before serving, garnish the soup with freshly chopped chives. Enjoy!
We enjoyed this with a freshly baked sourdough bread and a beautiful 2021 Wildekrans Estate Wine Rosé, with the following tasting notes:
Fresh, generous fruity nose. Dry Provençal style Rosé with hints of fynbos, peach and green apple. Long finish. A delicious drinking summer wine.