Muslin cloth and kitchen string, for the spice bag
4 live native lobsters, about 500g
Butter, to glaze
Salt, to taste
For the lemon verbena gel
4tbsp stock syrup (see below)
80ml lemon juice
5g ground ginger
5cm piece of lemon grass stalk
12 lemon verbena sprigs
1 star anise
Half a kaffir lime leaf
7g agar agar
Sea salt flakes and pepper
390g caster sugar
For the lemon verbena sauce
2tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
¼ head of celery, finely chopped
¼ fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
12g fresh root ginger, sliced
2 star anise
1 cardamom pod, crushed
Small pinch of fennel seeds
4 black peppercorns
40ml dry white wine
600ml chicken stock
8 lemon verbena sprigs
1 lemon grass stalk
40ml double cream
For the spiced carrot purée
2 cardamom pods
10g ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod
2 star anise
25g fresh root ginger
200ml carrot juice
Caster sugar, to taste
For the braised carrots
8 baby carrots
10g lemon verbena leaves
4 lemon verbena sprigs
For the stock syrup
Weigh the sugar into a saucepan and form a well in its centre. Weigh the glucose into the well (this will prevent the glucose sticking to the side of the pan). Pour in the water and bring to the boil. Stir with a balloon whisk to ensure that the sugar and glucose do not caramelise on the side of the pan.
Once boiled, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. The syrup can be stored in an airtight container for one month.
To prepare the lobsters
Bring a big pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Freeze the lobsters for 20 minutes to send them to sleep, then pierce a sharp knife through their heads to kill them. Place in the pan, return to the boil and blanch for two minutes.
Remove the lobsters from the pan and take off their claws and knuckles. Return the claws to the pan of boiling water and continue to cook for a further three minutes. Refresh them in a large bowl of iced water.
Crack the claws and remove the meat. Cut the lobster tail in half lengthways and remove the intestine. Keep the claw and tail meat for the final dish. Break up the knuckles and shells for the sauce.
For the verbena gel
Bring the stock syrup to the boil in a small saucepan, then add all the remaining ingredients except the agar agar.
Remove from the heat, cover the pan with cling film and leave the syrup to infuse for 30 minutes.
Pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pan, then stir in the agar agar and cook over a low heat, bringing it to a gentle simmer and stirring continuously for two minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour into a shallow baking tray. Leave to cool, then cover and chill until set, which should take about an hour or so. Once set, blend until smooth.
For the verbena sauce
Heat the oil in a large pan, add 40g of the butter and when it is foaming add the lobster shells.
Add the shallot, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger and all of the spices. Cook for about five minutes (the lobster shells will become quite red).
Pour in the Armagnac and carefully light it with a match. Add the white wine and, over a high heat, reduce it to a syrupy consistency.
Stir in the stock and simmer gently until it has reduced by two-thirds. Add the lemon verbena sprigs and lemon grass, remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
Return the pan to the heat, bring the sauce to the boil, then pour in the cream. Return it to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently at a simmer for five to 10 minutes, until thickened and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve, return to the pan and set aside.
For the spiced carrot purée
In a dry frying pan, toast the spices over a gentle heat for about five minutes. Remove the spices from the pan, then wrap them in muslin and tie up, to create a spice bag.
Put the carrots in a saucepan with the spice bag and pour in the carrot juice. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook gently until the carrots are soft, topping up with carrot juice or a little water if required. Remove the spice bag. Drain and blend to a smooth purée. Season with salt and a little sugar. Set aside.
To braise the baby carrots
Put the carrots in a large sauté or frying pan. Pour in water so that they are submerged by three-quarters. Add the butter and verbena. Braise over a medium heat until tender, topping up with water, if necessary.
To finish and serve
In a pan, reheat all the lobster meat in a little butter, water and a pinch or two of salt over a very gentle heat for five minutes. The gentle heat is essential to retain the meat’s delicate texture and prevent it from toughening.
Reheat the sauce and when it is bubbling hot, add the remaining butter, a little at a time, stirring with a balloon whisk. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Place one large spoonful of the carrot purée in the middle of each bowl. Top with the lobster meat and then the carrots. Spoon lemon verbena gel around the lobster, pour over the sauce and garnish with verbena.