Lobster Nam Tok

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors (yellow, orange, green, red, chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique, distinctively fruity flavor. It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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  • One 1 ½-pound live Maine lobster
  • 1/4 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly on a bias
  • 1 habanero, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thinly
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted rice powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked Jasmine rice, for serving


Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Dispatch the lobster using a chef’s knife, and break apart the body, but do not boil the lobster. Reserve the head for making stock, or discard.

Flip the tail over so that the legs are facing up, and insert a butter knife into the tail, wedging it in between the shell and the meat. (This will keep it from curling up like a shrimp when cooking, and will make it easier to remove the meat when cooked.) Drop the tail into the water, and cook until the shell is bright red; do not overcook. (For a 1 ½-pound lobster, it will take about 5 minutes for the tail.) Remove from the pot with a pair of tongs and drain in a colander set over a bowl.

Next, cook the claws. For a 1 ½-pound lobster, this will take about 7 minutes. (A general rule of thumb is to cook the claws just 2 minutes longer than the tail.) Remove from the pot with a pair of tongs and drain in the same colander as before.

To make the dressing, combine the onion, half of the scallions, habanero, lime juice, and fish sauce in a bowl. Add the toasted rice powder and cilantro, if using.

Remove the butter knife from the tail (use oven mitts because it will be very hot), and carefully use kitchen shears to cut through the shell. Working over a bowl to reserve the juices, remove the meat from the shell. Next, carefully use the heel of a chef’s knife and kitchen shears to crack through the claws or lobster crackers if you have them. Working over a bowl, remove the meat. Slice the tail meat into approximately ¼-inch rounds. Pour any reserved juices into the dressing. Arrange the lobster on a plate, and top with the dressing. Garnish with the remaining scallions, and serve with jasmine rice.

Recipe from The Daily Meal, 2011