3 Ways How to Cook Lobster Tail Perfectly Every Time!
Lobster tail, the white table cloth steakhouse staple menu item. Many AWG Private Chefs private dining clients orders this delicacy on the regular because it's something "fancy and hard to make at home". However, the truth of the matter is, cooking lobster tails at home is quick and very easy, and oh so tasty.
Best Ways How to Cook Lobster Tail at Home Perfectly Every Time!
Cooking lobster tails should never be a daunting task. The main mistakes that home cooks make while cooking lobster at home is that they tend to overcook the lobster tail to death, resulting in tough, rubbery, and unappealing meat texture and flavor. There are three primary preferred methods of cooking lobster tails that if followed precisely, will result in a perfect, tender, and tasty experience, every single time!
Types of Lobster:
There are two primarily utilized types of lobster here in the US. Cold water, and warm water lobster.
Cold water lobster is the most predominate lobster used in restaurants, and is what we all primarily think about. Cold water lobster is traditionally has a denser texture, a sweet and clean flavor, and cooks up beautifully. Cold water lobster for the most part originates in Maine and on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Warm water lobster still cooks up red, and tends to have much more delicate protein structure, and often cooks up a bit on the grainy side of texture. We often find that most of our clients that enjoy warm water lobster are coming from outside of the United States as they tend to eat more warm water lobsters abroad.
Tips When Shopping For Lobster:
Whenever you're at the local fish monger, or the seafood counter at your grocer, always ask to visually inspect your lobster tails before you buy them. There are some important key points you want to check for before spending your hard earned money on these little beauties:
Avoid lobsters with meat that is discolored (yellowish, green, etc)..
Avoid lobsters that have been advertised as "enhanced, extra moist, or water added" as this does nothing more than drain your wallet by the producer adding salt water to the product to increase it's weight.
Avoid lobsters that have highly discolored spots on them. While natural spots occur, like the photo above, grossly discolored spots could perhaps indicate that the lobster has been injured and/or may have some other anomaly that possibly could have degraded the meat quality.
How to Properly & Safely Thaw Lobster
When you purchase your lobster, chances are it will be pre-frozen, unless you're purchasing straight off the dock or out of a live tank. The two safe methods in which to properly thaw lobster are:
Thawing Lobster in Cold Water
This is the quickest way to thaw lobster same day. Take your lobster tails out of their packaging, and give them a quick rinse under the tap with cold running water. Then place the lobster in a freezer grade thickness zip top bag, adding a couple of butter knives to the bag with the lobster, slowly lower the lobster tails into a large pot of water leaving just about 3/4 of an inch of the zipper open. This is known as the displacement method, and will remove the maximum amount of air out of the bag to give the lobster the most contact with the water, without it getting soggy. Once you've displaced as much air out of the bag as possible, seal it. The butter knives will act as weights to hold the entire bag under water. Let your tap run in a slow and steady stream for 1-2 hours. Your lobsters should be thawed beautifully. Important. NEVER THAW WITH HOT WATER! Not only can this begin to cook the lobster ineffectively, it can also breed harmful bacteria and can make you very sick.
Thawing Lobster in the Fridge
Thawing lobster in the refrigerator is the best method when you have 24 hours ahead of time before you wish to cook them. Simply take a small rimmed sheet pan (cookie sheet with a lip on it), place a pad of 4-5 paper towels under the original packaging that the lobsters came in. Place the lobsters on a shelf in the middle of your fridge, and let the fridge do the work for you, slowly and safely thawing the meat. The paper towels will absorb any melt water liquid that comes out of the lobsters during the thawing process, and will speed cleanup for you.
How long do I cook lobster tail for?
Average lobster cooking times will vary depending on the size of lobster tails you have.
For a 4 ounce lobster tail, cooking time will range from 4-8 minutes.
For a 6 ounce lobster tail, cooking time will range from 6-9 minutes
For a 8 ounce lobster tail, cooking time will range from 8-11 minutes
For a larger than 8 ounce tail, consider yourself blessed! Cooking time will range from 11-15 minutes
Lobster Tail Cooking Methods:
Steaming Lobster Tails:
Steaming lobster tails is my most preferred method of cooking lobster. Steaming provides a more gentle heat and cooking method, which will result in much more tender lobster, while still cooking the tail all the way to proper doneness. Add approximately 3-4 inches of water into your pot, and place over high heat, with a pair of kitchen shears, make a cut in the top of the lobster tail from the head end to tail end, making sure to cut only the shell, and not the tender meat below. This will aide in steam penetration, and allow for faster cooking without the risk of the lobster getting tough on you. Place the tails in the bamboo steamer, close the lid and steam with time limits listed above, or until meat turns white and opaque, and internal temperature registers approximately 140 degrees. DO NOT OVERCOOK IT!
Oven Roasted Lobster Tail
Place the lobsters on a rimmed sheet tray lined with heavy duty aluminium foil (for easy clean up) and again, cut the top of the shell as indicated above paying special attention as to not cut the flesh of the lobster while creating the cut. Spread open the shell approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch or so to expose the flesh below. Brush the lobster tails with melted drawn butter (also known as clarified butter, or ghee), add some minced garlic & herbs if you wish, and roast in a 475 degree oven utilizing the suggested cooking times above. Again you are looking for a target internal temperature of just 140 degrees F.
I'm sure your asking yourself "but what about broling lobster tail". My answer is a simple resounding NO. Broiling is an ultra high heat method that can quickly take your lobster tails from tender and delicious to dried out pencil eraser texture in just a minute or two.
BBQ Grilled Lobster Tail
There is certainly something to be said about the flavor that a BBQ grill imparts into food. With that being said, it's also a quick way to overcook your tender babies.. So now is not the time to walk away from the grill going in search of another frosty cool adult beverage. To grill lobster tail, simply cut a slice in the shell as previously indicated, using your kitchen sheers. Run a skewer thru the center of the lobster tail, this will prevent it from curling during grilling. When you grill your lobster tails, always use the temperature test method, again looking for no more than 140 degrees F. I prefer to grill my lobster tails over indirect heat to help reduce the risk of overcooking.
Key Points When Cooking Lobster Tail At Home:
Always inspect your lobster for discoloration, & unusual spots
Never cook lobster more than 140 degrees F internal temperature
When grilling lobster, use a skewer to prevent the tail from curling
Slice the shell without cutting the meat to allow for more even cooking and a beautiful presentation.
You can never have enough melted butter and lemon with lobster tails!
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About the Author: Certified Master Chef Sean Andrade is Executive Chef/Owner of AWG Private Chefs, named the #1 Private Chef company in California. Chef Sean has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industries worldwide for more than 25 years. His company AWG Private Chefs offers highly custom tailored, bespoke private chef dining experiences, select location meal delivery, and event catering in over 30 countries around the globe.