10 Things You Need to Know About Grilling Lobster Tails
It’s on every steakhouse menu – it’s what puts the surf in Surf and Turf. It’s one of the few reasons adults are willing to wear a bib and use tiny dental like instruments. Yes, we all love lobster.
Maybe it’s the melted butter. Maybe it’s the soft, sweet flesh of these sea epicurean delights but whatever it is, if you want to grill some lobster tails that will have your guests singing your praises, there are some things you need to know abut preparing this gastronomical delight.
10. If you can, use fresh lobster.
While there are dozens of species of lobster, chances are your local market or grocery store will only have one or two types. The two most common in the tanks are Spiny Caribbean and Maine Lobsters. Spiny lobsters are a claw-less species and are caught in the warm Caribbean waters. If you’re going to prepare your lobster from a frozen state, likely the tail is from a Caribbean Spiny lobster. You can identify it by their very distinct white spotted pattern.
The most sought after and succulent is the Main lobster. These lobsters hail from cold Atlantic waters. They aren’t typically frozen but are sold live. Their flesh is firmer and sweeter. The claw and knuckle meat is even more tender the tail.
Frozen tails are a good alternative. The tail and claws are removed immediately after catch and they are then shipped frozen so there is very little chance of bacteria build up after the lobster has died. Whole frozen lobsters are rarely sold because of the potential for bacteria. Whole live lobsters guarantee the best meal.
But if you’re starting with frozen lobster because fresh are not available, be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight.
No time to thaw overnight? Put the lobster tail in a heavy-duty ZipLoc or zipper sealed bag. Place the bag in a clean bowl and place the bowl under running cold water tap in your sink. Make sure to get the water as cold as possible before you put the bowl under it.
Once it is cold, slow the flow down to a trickle and allow the bowl to fill up and spill over. Doing this allows the tap water to circulate and brings the lobster up to the temperature of the surrounding water. Two hours maximum for this method to ensure the food remains safe from bacteria and pathogens forming.
9. Get the butter ready.
You just can’t serve lobster without melted butter. That would be wrong. The butter is used for basting that sweet white meat. Prepare a garlic butter basting sauce by using 4 tablespoons of butter. Warm the butter on medium heat in a small pan or in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Plain salted butter is fine but you can add that steakhouse appeal by stirring in one minced clove of garlic along with one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (hint: reserve that lemon because you’ll need the wedges from it in number 2’s preparation guideline). Keep the butter warm by keeping it on low or by using a butter warmer such as a small tea light candle beneath a dish atop a stand.
Good to know: Dunking the warm lobster into the warm melted butter will help keep the butter temperature up. Dipping cold items or foods that are just room-temperature into the butter will lower its temperature and cause it to re-solidify. Needless to say that is not appetizing for guests.
8. Let’s put the water on.
Fill a large saucepan or pot and bring it to a full boil. Once it has boiled reduce the heat to a medium low and allow the water to get to a slow boil. Once that water is at a slow boil, drop the lobster tails into it and allow them to boil 2 minutes.
7. Remove lobster tails and get them in an ice bath
Remove the lobster tails and dunk them in an ice bath so they will stop cooking immediately while you prepare the next steps!
6. Get the tails ready to cut by laying them out on a cutting board with the bottoms facing up.
Make sure you have a sharp knife. You’re almost half way to serving up the perfect lobster, so pay attention. Cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise. Take clean kitchen scissors/shears (you should have scissors designated for food use only in every kitchen) and cut the tails in half lengthwise. Add some extra flair by basting the side of the lobster tail you just removed the shell from with your melted butter baste. Don’t discard the shell! Place the freshly basted lobster back into that little nesting place.
5. Get the grill hot and ready.
Oil the barbecue grate or spray with cooking oil so nothing sticks. Seafood meat is delicate and will burn easily.
4. Baste and season.
Let’s use that butter again. Baste the tails again and then use a pinch of salt and pepper and paprika on each. Baste the lobster tails with garlic butter basting sauce one more time, then sprinkle the tails with a small amount of salt and pepper and paprika to taste. This is where skewers will come in handy if your lobster tails are too small to sit on the grill manageably.
3. Grill them flesh side down.
Important: Make sure to put the lobster flesh side down. Cook the lobster tails for 4 to 5 minutes. Only turn them and lift them when light grill marks are visible.
2. Grill them shell side down (keep basting).
And flip! Turn those tails over so now you will have the shell side facing down. You’re going to cook them for another 3 to 5 minutes. Keep basting the tails to get that butter marinated into the meat. You’ll know they are done with the lobster meat is opaque and firm.
1. Serve with melted butter and lemon.
Serve your perfectly done lobster tails accompanied by small individual bowls of your melted butter and some lemon wedges.
Don’t forget plenty of napkins, bibs, sturdy seafood or nut crackers and seafood pics if you have them and a bowl for those empty shells.
Now – let the compliments fall on you like a light rain.
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