Chef Jasper White's / Pan-Roasted Lobster with Tomatoes, Butter and Herbs


For equipment you will need a saucepan, a fine strainer, a Chinese cleaver or large chef’s knife, a heavy ovenproof 14-inch skillet, and a pair of tongs and a wooden spoon. If you don’t have a 14-inch skillet, use two 9- or 10-inch sauté pans-one for each lobster.


  • 2 ripe tomatoes, medium size (ounces)
  • 2 live hard-shell lobsters, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds each
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, canola or other vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots (ounces), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • You may prepare the tomatoes, dice the shallots, and pick the herbs, hours before you cook the lobster, but you must cut up the lobster only minutes before you cook it.


  1. Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring it to boil over high heat. Score an x at the base of each tomato with a small paring knife. Lower the tomatoes into the boiling water until the skin splits, about 30 seconds. Plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Peel the skins from the tomatoes, and quarter them lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the center membranes with small spoon or knife, transfer them to a coarse strainer set over a glass measuring cup, and use a spoon to press them into the strainer to extract their juices”there should be about 1/4 cup fresh juice. Cut the seeded tomatoes into a 1/2-inch dice, combine with the juice and set aside.
  2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 500 F. Using a Chinese cleaver or large chef's knife, chop off the top of the lobster's head, about one inch back from the tip (rostrum); that will kill the lobster instantly and will also remove the inedible head sac. Split the lobster lengthwise. Separate the knuckle and leg section, by twisting it or by cutting it with a knife. Chop the lobster halves in half again, right where the carcass and tail meet. If the lobster contains the roe, remove it, along with the green tomalley and, after discarding half of it, transfer them to a small bowl. Break them into small pieces with a fork, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and reserve. Season the pieces very lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Place an empty 14-inch skillet or sauté pan on a burner over high heat for five minutes. Add the oil to the skillet. Put the claws in first and, moving them around, cook them in the oil for about a minute, then add the remaining pieces, shell side down. Use tongs to roll and press the shells into the hot fat to sear them evenly. If the pan gets dry, add a little more oil. Sear until the shells are bright red, about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and spread them on the bottom of the pan. Turn the lobster pieces, so the shell sides are facing up. Add the tomalley and roe to the bottom of the skillet and place it in the oven. Roast until the shells are lightly browned or a bit charred, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven and turn off. Return the skillet to the hot burner and, using an oven mitt to protect your hands and forearms, add the wine and the reserved tomatoes with their juices, and simmer over high heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any particles stuck to the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and, using tongs, transfer the lobster quickly to a platter. Arrange the pieces shell side down. Stir the butter and mint (or basil) into the sauce and when the butter has emulsified and the sauce gains a creamy consistency, season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the roast lobster pieces and serve immediately.

This recipe was featured on Season 16 - Episode 1614.

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“chop off the top of the lobster’s head, about one inch back from the tip (rostrum); that will kill the lobster instantly”… Not true! This dish is sadistic and cruel. I was stupid enough to make it for some friends years ago and still get nightmares about watching these creatures’ bodies writhing away in pain in the frying pan after chopping them in half while alive. It’s sad that many who enjoy this dish would probably have a hard time actually doing the dirty work of killing a crab or lobster this way, just to have a tasty meal. At the end of my preparation of this dish, I had completely lost my appetite!

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