Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor

This dish is thought to have been created in 1894 by Chez Marie, a Paris restaurant, for the opening of Victorien Sardou’s play Thermidor. Others say it was first tasted by Napoleon during Thermidor, the 11th month of the calendar invented during the French Revolution.


  • • 2 live lobsters,
    (1-1/2 lb/750 g each)
  • • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh chives
  • • Bechamel Sauce:
  • • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
  • • 1 small onion, diced
  • • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • • 2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
  • • 3/4 cup (175 mL) milk
  • • 1/4 cup (60 mL) clam juice
  • • 1 tbsp (15 mL) sherry
  • • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) white pepper
  • • 1 pinch ground mace or ground nutmeg


1. Fill large deep pot with enough salted water (1 tbsp/15 mL salt per 4 cups/1 L water) to completely cover lobsters; bring to full rolling boil. Grasp back of each lobster; plunge headfirst into water. Cover and return to boil.

Reduce to bubbly simmer; cook for 10 minutes or until lobster is bright red and small leg comes away easily when twisted and pulled. Remove from water; let cool.

2. Halve lobsters lengthwise. Twist off claws at joint at body; separate into claw and arm sections. Break off small part of claw and remove meat. Crack large part of claw at widest part; lift out meat. Crack arm; pick out meat and set aside. Discard claw shells.

3. Remove meat from bodies; cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) chunks. If any, remove coral (roe or eggs) to small bowl.

Scrape shells’ insides clean, discarding green tomalley and sand sac (behind eyes). Set on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; spoon in lobster meat. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate lobsters and coral separately for up to 2 hours.)

4. Bechamel Sauce: In small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; fry onion and celery for 6 minutes or until softened. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, clam juice, sherry, salt, pepper and mace; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in coral (if any); cook for 1 minute. Strain through fine sieve into small bowl. (Make-ahead: Cover and set aside for up to 30 minutes; reheat.)

5. Cover lobster meat with sauce. Bake in 450°F (230°C) oven for about 14 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Sprinkle with chives.

Additional information : Tips: Coral, or roe or eggs, appears as a long reddish line in female lobsters. It adds a nice rosy colour to the sauce and is considered by many to be a delicacy. Ask your fishmonger for at least one female lobster.

To save you time, many fish markets will cook the lobster for you.

Source : Canadian Living Magazine: February 2008.