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The Shun Lee Cookbook by Michael Tong
In the 1940s, a lobster dish called Lobster Cantonese, unlike anything ever seen in Canton, was popular on the menus of New York's Chinese restaurants. With its gooey, eggy sauce, it was never one of my favorites. My version, introduced at Shun Lee in 1980, utilizes the true flavors of Cantonese cooking and allows the sweetness of the lobster to sing out.
Makes 4 servings



    • One 1½-pound uncooked lobster, cut into 12 pieces, each piece cracked (see Note)
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • Vegetable oil, for passing through


    • 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 3 scallions, white parts trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, green parts trimmed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
    • 30 Chinese fermented black beans, lightly crushed with a cleaver and minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil


1. Toss the lobster with the cornstarch in a medium bowl (this will seal the meat and help keep it tender). Heat a large wok over high heat. Add enough oil to come 1 inch up the sides of the wok, and heat it to 325°F. In batches without crowding, add the lobster and stir gently until the shells turn bright red, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Using a wide wire-mesh strainer, transfer the lobster to a colander. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok.

2. To begin the sauce, mix the soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set it aside.

3. Return the wok with the oil to high heat. Add the white scallion pieces along with the ginger, garlic, and black beans. Stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the lobster, then the soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry for 45 seconds. Add the green scallion pieces, and stir-fry until the sauce is glossy and the lobster is cooked through, about 45 seconds. Add the sesame oil. Serve immediately.

    Note: To get 12 pieces of lobster, use a heavy cleaver to chop the body into 4 pieces, the tail into 2 pieces, and the claws into 3 pieces each. Crack the pieces of lobster. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you wish, have your fishmonger do this. Use the lobster within a few hours of chopping it up.

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