How to make lobster thermidor

JamieTurner Feb 20, 2008 Food
Lobster thermidor was created in 1894 by Marie's, a Paris restaurant near the theater Comedie Francaise to honor the opening of the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou. Unlike the recipe, the play was not a critical success, and is rarely performed. Due to some extensive preparation involved, lobster thermidor is usually considered a recipe primarily for special occasions. But the methods described here are not that difficult and, with a little time set aside to prepare, this incredible dish could be on the dinner table tonight. Bon Apetite!

  • 2 whole live lobsters, about 2 to 2½ pounds
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 2 onion, cut in quarters
  • 1 bouquet garni 
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 tbsp minced shallots 
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup sherry wine or cognac
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp red hot pepper sauce
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup plus 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tsp finely chopped parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water containing the lemons, quartered onion and bouquet garni to a boil. Add the lobster to the boiling water and cook for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the lobster from the water and place in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process of the lobster.
  2. In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and mushrooms, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes for a blond roux. Stir in the wine, milk, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. This sauce will be thicker than a normal Béchamel because it will be used as a filling. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, mustard and tarragon. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and re-season if necessary. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the lobsters from the water and split them in half lengthwise. Remove the tail meat from the shells and set aside. Carefully clean out the body cavity until nothing remains.
  5. With the back of a knife, gently crack open the claws. Remove all the claw meat and combine with the tail meat. Dice all of the lobster meat into large chunks, then fold the meat into the Béchamel sauce.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly and spoon into the lobster shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the lobster. Place the filled lobster on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and place on 2 large dining plates with choice of vegetables and starch, such as rice or pasta. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley over the top, and serve immediately. 
  • Instead of sherry wine, any type of white cooking wine will work.
  • A bouquet of garni is a sprig of parsley, a bay leaf and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme all bundled up in cheese cloth and tied securely with string.
  • A great wine selection for this meal would be a chilled Chardonnay from the Napa Valley region of Northern California. Or try a German Riesling or even the celebratory French Champagne!
  • For those who are familiar with this and aren’t afraid, the coral and the liver of the lobster can be removed after cooking and splitting the body, then crushed in a mixing bowl. Add them into the sauce after it’s thickened on the burner.


  • Keep the claws of the live lobster banded until after it’s cooked to avoided getting pinched. Also, watch out for the barbed underbelly even after it’s been cooked, it can still hurt if not handled carefully.
  • Don’t keep the flame up too high on the Béchamel sauce as it can burn easily. Keep stirring the sauce frequently.


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  • Last Updated : Mar 2, 2008