Oh, The Comoros.
My first step was learning how to pronounce the name. (The) Cah-muh-rohs seems to be the correct pronunciation.
My second step was researching recipes. I came up with two contenders… a chicken curry dish that looked good but not too unusual or spectacular… or lobster with vanilla sauce.
My third step was working up the bravery for a memorable shopping trip.
…and the tail of “Frozen Frank.”
Yep, that happened.
Langouste a la Vanille (recipe)
Fortunately, Tyler was braver than me… he handled Frank the lobster and diligently followed the recipe’s instructions to stab poor Frank between the eyes and sever his spinal cord from the brain. It was a little traumatic. Frank wasn’t happy.
After that traumatic experience and more clicking and scuttling sounds from the lobster box than I needed to hear, our lobster friends found their way to the oven…
I now understand why the Red Lobster restaurants have the name they do…
This yielded a surprisingly small amount of meat.
Meanwhile, on the less traumatic side of the kitchen, I was making the vanilla sauce. Since we were already spending an arm and a leg on the darn lobsters, we figured we might as well spend another $12 for a vanilla bean and do this right. I’ve never cooked with a vanilla bean before, and I was pretty amazed by the collection of itty bitty seeds inside it.
The sauce involved sautéing shallots in butter, then adding white wine and white wine vinegar. Then more (!) butter and 1/2 of the vanilla bean seeds were added. All said and done, this used a full stick of butter. That is a LOT of butter.
The recipe suggested serving it with spinach and watercress withered in (more) butter. I couldn’t find watercress, but I found a blend of spinach and two other types of leaves that were conveniently listed on the internet as reasonable substitutes for watercress.
Since all that butter wasn’t enough unhealthiness for one meal, we also made a dessert called ladu. This called for coarsely ground raw rice, and we did manage to find rice that I would define as coarsely ground (I was expecting to end up finding a way to grind up whole rice on our own) This was cooked in butter on the stove… allegedly this was to be done until it was cooked, but the truth is that butter does not do much for softening rice.
I’m not sure if we had the wrong kind of “coarsely ground raw rice” or if the recipe was incomplete, but much like the arepas for Colombia, I took matters into my own hands and started adding water. I kept adding water and cooking it until it was soft enough to be edible.
Then the cardamom was added, and after cooking the powdered sugar and pepper were added. It was supposed to be shaped into “bricks.” We must have done something wrong, because bricks were not going to happen with this consistency.
Not as good as I was hoping for, considering the cost of lobster and vanilla beans…
Truthfully, I am not a fan of most seafood other than fish, and lobster is no exception. The sauce was fantastic, but I really struggled with the texture of the lobster meat. Tyler ate most of it. And after the traumatic cooking experience, I didn’t have enough an appetite left to be disappointed by this. On the plus side, we can now check off “cook a live lobster” from the list of life experiences we have completed! I’m still glad we cooked this meal, and I probably couldn’t have been convinced to purchase and cook a live lobster under any other circumstances.
The dessert was decidedly safe and “normal” for me compared to the lobster, although the combination of cold oatmeal-y rice with pepper and cardamom was unlike anything I have experienced. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate in. In general, I found it to be such a different food experience that I had a hard time wrapping my head around it to form a strong opinion.
Whew. Our next country of Costa Rica looked pretty reassuringly normal after this.