Lobster Saganaki (Αστακος Σαγανακι)

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It’s time for another saganaki dish. There are a lot of “saganaki” dishes on this blog but this one is the tastiest. REALLY! Most of you are familiar with the flaming cheese saganaki (a taverna favourite) but there are many types of saganaki dishes. Saganaki is the two-handled dish that it’s served in – so anything served in a saganaki dish could be called one. Think “paella” or “tagine”.

This is not a difficult dish to prepare and the despite the list of ingredients for this recipe, they complement and lift the lobster flavour. The lobster lends a hand to the sauce and the sauce helps the lobster along. The hardest part about preparing this dish is dispatching the lobster – yes, you’re going to have to kill your meal. The best fish or seafood is the freshest fish or seafood and when it comes to lobster (or crab), you should always begin with a live one.

You don’t have to have a saganaki vessel to pull this dish off but live lobster is a must: the meat is succulent, tastes better and the liquid and shells will make the sauce and overall dish tastier. I’ve added some heat to this dish with the addition of a moderately hot banana pepper but you can adjust the heat in this dish to your liking. There’s also a roasted red pepper that I blistered on top of my gas stove to get that nice smoky flavour in the dish.

This dish contains Greek extra-virgin olive oil, some orange zest and thinly-sliced fennel, white wine and Metaxa – the Greek brandy. I’ve used some tomato paste diluted with water as it’s now October and those ripe, sweet garden tomatoes are but a memory. If you have good tomatoes or make this in the summer, grate 2 large tomatoes into the mix or some good jarred pomodoro will do the trick too!

There’s no need to oversell this dish – it’s one of the tastiest I’ve created in awhile and it begs for good, crusty homemade bread to dunk in. Beyond slice bread for toast, I make my own bread at home at you can try making some at home too! Go on, get going and make some bread because you’re gonna want to mop-up all the sauce in this sublime Lobster Saganaki.

Lobster Saganaki (Αστακος Σαγανακι)

(appetizer for two)

2 Tbsp. butter

1 live lobster ( 1 1/2lb.)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 scallions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chopped sliced or chopped fennel

1/2 roasted red bell pepper, cut into ribbons

1 mildly hot green or banana pepper, sliced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup seafood or vegetable stock

splash of Metaxa brandy

2 Tbsp. of tomato paste

approx. 2 tsp. orange zest

cold butter or heavy cream (optional)

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. Greek basil

salt and pepper to taste

  1. You’re going to have to kill your lobster just before cooking it so place it in the freezer for 20 minutes so that the beastie becomes dormant before you dispatch it. Place a cutting board inside a roasting pan and lay your lobster on the board. Using your butcher’s knife, stick the knife into the head, about an inch behind the eyes and now cut the lobster in half (lengthwise). The lobster is now dead but it will still move a bit. Now twist off the tail, claws, knuckles (do this over the pan so you can collect the liquid).
  2. Place a skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add the butter. As soon as the butter has melted and stops foaming, add ALL the lobster pieces in the skillet and sauté until the shells just turn red then remove and reserve. Now add the olive oil, scallions, garlic, fennel, roasted red pepper and hot pepper and stir. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until the veggies have softened.
  3. Now add the tomato paste and stir in then add wine, stock, Metaxa, reserve lobster liquid and orange zest and stir in. Bring up to a boil then reduce back to a simmer and cook for about another 5-6 minutes. If you want your sauce thicker, simmer a little longer and this is moment where you will adjust flavours (with any of the other ingredients) and you likely will not need any salt.
  4. Add the lobster pieces into the skillet and cover. You want the lobster to gently finish cooking through – adjust heat to a medium-medium low and cook for another 5 minutes or until tail meat is fork-tender.
  5. Add one or pads of cold butter into the sauce and swirl-in or add a splash of heavy cream. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and fresh basil and serve with lots of crusty homemade bread. The sauce should not be left behind!
  6. Serve with a Gerovassilou White from Epanomi, near Thessaloniki.

© 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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12 Comments for “Lobster Saganaki (Αστακος Σαγανακι)”


Peter – You have really taken the crown with this one. Of all the wonderful dishes I’ve seen on your blog – and there are many – this one has to be my favorite. Would that I were in Greece eating this right now!


Yum! I love saganaki dishes and have made a couple but this looks amazingly delicious!!! It reminds me of all the good food when we go to Greek Islands in Chicago! Love your pics, are you a professional chef and/or photographer?


I believe you when you say this one is the best, love that brandy you snuck in there. I just need to go to therapy or a class to learn not to be afraid of killing lobsters and then I am ready to make it.