President Carter’s “Bouillabaisse” Salad


                                                        bouillaibaisse  salad


This was one of those dishes that existed only in my head until Chef Vagn Nielsen created this masterpiece for a birthday party honoring Robert Shaw, the former conductor of the Atlanta Symphony.  His guest of honor was President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter. The idea was to create a chilled appetizer with the flavors of a bouillaibaisse. This appetizer could easily serve as a luncheon or summertime dinner main course. For the story of our work at the Carte Center, click here.

4    fresh lobsters, 1 ¼ - 1 ½ pounds each

4     jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

8     mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

For the sauce:

½ fresh fennel bulb 

juice and grated rind of ½ lemon

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon champagne mustard

¼ cup sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Pernod

¼ teaspoon Tabasco

1 teaspoon chives

a few threads of saffron

Prepare the lobsters by bringing a pot of water large enough to hold all of the lobsters to a boil.  Drop the lobsters in head first and cover and boil for 8-10 minutes. (I prefer 6 minutes for the smaller lobsters.) Do not over cook. Remove from the pot and rinse the lobsters in cold water to stop the cooking.  Gently crack the claws and remove the claw meat in one piece. Break off the tail and turn it upside down. With a fork, grab the tail meat and pull it out of the shell.  If this is not easy, use a very sharp knife and slice through the spiny underside to open the shell to release the meat. Set the lobster meat aside.

Boil the shrimp for about 3 minutes and refresh in cold water.    Place the mussels in a skillet with enough white wine or water to cover the bottom. Bring to a boil and cover. As soon as the mussels pop open, in about 3-5minutes, remove from the pan and chill in the refrigerator.

To prepare the sauce:

Dice the fennel bulb and boil it in the cream until tender.  Place the fennel cream mixture in a food processor with all the remaining sauce ingredients, except the chives, and process until well blended.  Chop the chives.

To assemble:

Spread sauce to cover the bottom of chilled plates.  Arrange one lobster tail and the claws, one jumbo shrimp and 2 mussels on each plate for an entrée portion.  For an appetizer portion slice the tails and shrimp in half lengthwise and use one mussel and one lobster claw  for each plate. Sprinkle with chopped chives for garnish.

Serves 4 for entrees or 8 for appetizers.