Summer Shack’s Famous Pan Roasted Lobster


Lobster is one of those foods that are too damn expensive. Where I live, a lobster is around $18.99 per pound, which is ridiculous for the amount of food you actually get from a single lobster! However, if you’re calculating cost based on how LONG it takes to eat and savor the food item, then lobster’s a pretty good deal. Sure, you can eat the tail in a few bites, but the real prize is in the tiny legs where the meat is the sweetest and most delicate.

In fact, I don’t even like the lobster tail – I’m all about working for my food and would rather trade you the tail for the legs and body. Even the claw doesn’t excite me – you can have that too!

You know I’m in heaven when I have to dissect, pick, suck, nibble and pinch for just the tiniest morsel of meat. A lobster of this size would probably take me an entire hour of labor to finish. Talk about savoring!

I was in Boston last month, and was lucky enough to dine with new friend and author, Debra Samuels. Deb co-authored the book korean-table-debra-samuelsThe Korean Table (I highly recommend this book), my publicist, Grace Niwa and Holly and Rowan from my publisher, Tuttle Publishing.

Holly ordered Summer Shack’s most famous dish, the Pan Roasted Lobster, a dish which really deserves to be highlighted with spotlights and a red carpet. Because it’s that good. I don’t even remember what I ordered – Holly was sitting next to me and the moment this dish was gently laid down in front of her, I couldn’t help it.

The blogger in me came out, I turned to Holly, put my hand on her shoulder, leaned in and said, “I must. I can’t help it. I can’t control the urge. You understand, don’t you?”

She nodded. Of course she understood! Holly is the editor of my cookbook and we had been working closely together like bread and butter for 2 years now!

And so I stood up, picked up her plate of hot, oozing, creamy, savory lobster and whisked it away.

To a table with better light so I could photograph it.


I know. I hate taking photos at restaurants.

But when a dish like this Pan Roasted Lobster is this good – and I can score a recipe for you directly from this guy:

jasper-white-summer-shack Chef Jasper White, winner several awards for Best Chef and author of  summer-shack-cookbookI think you’ll understand.


Summer Shack’s Pan-Roasted Lobster with Chervil & Chives Recipe

recipe from Summer Shack Restaurant – Chef Jasper White (c) Scribner.

The bourbon in this recipe adds a sweetness that mingles potently with the sweetness of the lobster. An excellent Cognac or brandy can be substituted for similar results. Fresh chervil imparts a hint of anise flavor to the lobster; if unavailable, fresh parsley mixed with a small amount of fresh tarragon (1/2 teaspoon) will give a taste almost as good.

Equipment: You will need a medium Chinese cleaver or large chef’s knife, a heavy oven-proof 12-inch sauté pan and tongs.

2 live 1 ¾ pound hard-shell lobsters
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 shallots (1 ½ ounces), finely diced
¼ cup bourbon or cognac
2 or 3 tablespoons dry white wine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon finely chopped chervil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the broiler or preheat the oven as hot as possible (500 or 550F). Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. You may need to shorten the cooking time slightly if the broiler rack is close to the heat.

2. Split the lobster lengthwise (it will kill the lobster instantly). Remove the tomalley and the roe if present. Now cut off the claw with the knuckle attached (where the knuckle meets the carapace). Cut the lobster halves into quarters. You will now have 6 pieces of lobster. Place the pieces of lobster, shell side down, on a plate.

3. Place the tomalley and roe in a small bowl. With a fork, break them into small pieces.

4. Place a heavy 12-inch sauté pan over the highest heat possible. Allow the pan to heat for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes extremely hot. Add the oil and heat until it forms a film on the surface of the pan. Slide the lobster pieces, shell side down, into the hot oil. Using tongs, move the pieces in order to evenly sear all the shells. Because the lobster pieces are not flat, you will need to hold them with the tongs and press the shells into the hot oil to accomplish this. The claws need to be seared on only one side. When the shells have all turned bright red, which should take no more than 2 minutes, turn the pieces over. The oil will also have taken on a beautiful red tinge. Add the tomalley and roe to the pan.

5. Place the pan in the oven. If using the broiler, cook for 2 minutes. If using the oven, cook for 3 minutes. The shells should be slightly browned, even a bit charred in places.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove at maximum heat. Turn off the oven and put your plates in to warm. This will take only a minute. Warning: The handle of the pan will be red-hot and will stay hot until the dish is complete. To avoid burns, wear oven mitts from now until the dish is complete.

7. Add the shallots to the fat in the pan and stir. Add the bourbon and ignite. Shake the pan until the flames die down. Add the wine and let liquid in the pan reduce until the pan is almost dry. Turn the heat to low.

8. Quickly remove the pieces of lobster and place, shell side down, on warm plates. I like to “reconstruct” the lobster so that it looks similar to a split lobster. Arrange the claws so that they lean into the center of the lobster.

9. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter, chervil and chives. Swirl or stir the butter in the pan to create a creamy sauce with the pan juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use very little salt, if any, because the lobster adds its own salt. Spoon the sauce over the lobster pieces (see photograph insert following page 50) and serve at once.

Serves 2 as a generous main course or 4 as a light meal or first course

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Comments 32

  1. Divina

    Wow, lobster. Just irresistible and it’s so perfect with butter and herbs. I only get to eat them during the holidays though. But the photo comes to life, I could almost taste it.

  2. Natanya

    Okay so, this recipe requires that you slaughter the lobster personally, with a knife. There’s no getting around it by tossing the lobster in water and letting the water do the work. Nope. It’s all you. But damn, it looks so good I might just be willing to become a hands-on lobster assassin.

    LOL you need a hat and apron that says Lobster Assassin. ~j

  3. Sue from Cucina DiBella

    Wow, this recipe looks delicious. Living in Maine, lobsters are around $3 a pound right now, so my husband and I love to cook it whenever possible. I love finding new lobster recipes that let me help to support the local industry! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  4. kayenne

    OMG! that recipe sounded soooooooooooooooooooooo good! this is from someone who would normally choose crab over lobsters!

  5. Dawn in CA

    Whoa. If it had been me, I don’t think the lobster would have lasted for even a single photo.

  6. The Cooking Bride

    I will leave the lobster assassinating to my husband. Men seem to get excited about that kind of thing. When we bought our first house last year, he wanted to celebrate by boiling our own lobsters. I hid in the bedroom until it was safe to come out. I love lobster, but I don’t want to become personally acquainted with my meal before I devour him!

  7. Heather @ what's blooming this week

    I was in Halifax last week and paid $8.95/lb. which I thought was expensive till I read what they cost in Manhattan. Flew some home with us to Toronto where they are $10.95/lb at the local grocery store. We had a big lobster boil on Saturday night. Delicious, but….Wish I had this recipe then….it looks delicious.

  8. The Italian Dish

    The nerve! I feel the compulsion, too, to photograph a great dish in a restaurant. I don’t know how you got such a great shot, though. That’s fabulous and that dish looks incredible!

  9. Maryann

    Oh me oh my. I feel faint just gazing upon the wonderfulness (is that even a word?) of this lobster. We had steamed lobster last week and yes, yes, yes I started working on those yummy little legs. We got ours at Albertson’s (it still exists and not that far from us) at 7.99 each. This is in a whole other realm!

  10. Cheryl Fuller

    Don’t hate me, but where I live on the coast of Maine lobster prices have been depressed for almost a year. Lobster is cheaper than steak here — we have been eating them every week and buy them from a lobsterman for $5.00 a piece for 1.25 lbs lobsters.

    We;ll be trying this recipe tomorrow!

  11. Tokyo Terrace

    WOW! This looks amazing! I love lobster- the whole lobster and nothing but the lobster. Oh goodness- this is giving me an intense craving! I’m glad you moved to a different table to get the photos-beautiful- and the recipe! Totally worth it!

  12. Angelique from Bitchin Kitchen

    Good thing you took a picture of this fantastic dish. Lobster is definitely a weakness of mine ( along with spicy chicken wings and anything fudge) I will eat a lobster any way they can serve it. Usually my favorite is lobster and Italian tomato sauce… but I absolutely love lobster and ginger sauce. This might make the top 3 of my list – can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Fran

    Oh does that look good! I don’t even love lobster, but this is calling to me. I see another lobster in my future. I made it a couple of times as Justopia, but now that I’ve finally shed that inane name, it’s time for lobster this good. Thanks for grabbing the recipe!

  14. E. Thai

    Beautiful pictures, as usual.
    $18.99 for a pound of lobster? A few weeks ago, I heard on the news that lobsterman were only getting as low as $2.75 a pound. Wonder who’s making all that money?
    Lobsters are also very good steamed plain. No butter, nothing on it. You get to taste the sweetness of the meat. Like you, I like the claws, and the head. The green stuff in the head – tomalley – is really good. I learned about it from one of Julia Child’s cooking shows.
    Next time you are in New England, try the fried clams. They are the BEST!

  15. Cheryl

    You’ve really made me miss Boston. Sigh. I lived there for almost 7 years before we moved to Calif. But we were on Martha’s Vineyard this summer and ended up hosting a huge lobster feast for a big group of family & friends. Sadly, it POURED buckets and I had no external lighting source with me, so all my photos came out like, well, dung.

    And I love Summer Shack! We used to take our kids there all the time. It’s a massive restaurant, isn’t it?

  16. Tampa Cheryl

    I’m a Boston native and this just makes me homesick. My favorite lobster ‘memory’ is when I lived in Boston and took a giant box on a flight to a friend in TX. The horror of her family watching me put all these live lobsters into a big pan of boiling water and holding it closed until I could let up– the pan a bit too small during the initial plunge.But boy they sure could eat them up when they were served. My friend’s daughter, then only 4, thought they were giant scorpians and cried, but even she ate them cooked.

  17. huckjr

    Looks amazing!!! I’m a BBQ guy myself but I’m definitely going to have to try this recipe. This would go great witth the fight that’s coming on tonight!!!

  18. [email protected]

    Oh man, I just ate dinner but your pictures have my stomach growling. Looks insane delicious.

  19. mc

    Yes! I’ve seen this recipe being demonstrated on foodnetwork by Jasper White himself (w/ Julia Child) and it just looked totally awesome! Lobster in Boston is ~$4.50/lb!!! I tried this recipe twice and it’s totally easy to do and absolutely heavenly. The only downside is that sometimes it may get too salty since all the salt is coming from the lobsters themselves. Thanks for the lovely picture!

  20. BostonBuffy

    This is, truly, TO DIE FOR at the Summer Shack. It makes your toes curl. You will be speechless – inhaling every last morsel. If/when you’re in Boston this is the one meal, hands-down, that is a must-have.

  21. Morris Steward

    Just finished watching “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” which included a segment with Jasper White cooking his famous dish. Thank you for “scoring” the recipe, I plan to use it soon.

  22. Pingback: Lobster? Has anyone roaster one/many? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

  23. Pingback: Summer Shack Lobster! | Giggling Gourmand

  24. Michael Ruth

    Really lovely dish. My hat off to Chef White and yourself for recognizing such excellence and prodding him to divulge his secrets.
    This reminds me (style and technique, not flavor) of a dish served in Singapore called Chilli Crab. I can’t wait to be back in the US with the proper equipment to have a go at Pan Roasted Lobster.

    1. Post

      I love Chilli Crab too! It’s funny how in Asia, it’s spelled “Chilli” and in US it’s “Chili” or “Chile” All the different spellings are confusing!

  25. Gordeaux

    I have made this about 10 times and it really is fairly easy and excellent. Only cracking the knuckles and claws is a drag. Also, always use cognac, no bourbon. It’s great.

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