How to Cook Lobster Tails

The first time I had lobster I was in Palm Springs on a college spring break. Yea, yea … I know … most college spring breaks consist of cold pizza, beer, nachos and maybe some late-night cheese fries. What can I say, I did things a little differently than most (just ask Eric). Anyway, we were out to dinner and I remember being asked if I liked lobster. To which I said something like, “Don’t know. I’ve never had it.” I’m sure I’d been to places that had it, but being a creature mermaid of habit, I usually ordered crab or some other seafood. I remember my friend telling me it tasted like crab, so I ordered it. And while it might be similar, it is most certainly not “like” crab. It’s richer. Thicker. Not as sweet. And has, I think, a rougher texture. But it’s delicious, none the same.

How did the cockroach of the ocean became a delicacy?

It’s hard to believe, but not all that long ago lobster was food fit not for the wealthy but for those with hardly a nickel to spare. Back when New England was but a mere colony, lobster would wash up on the shore in droves causing some to consider it trash food. And it was so abundant that people turned their noses up at it and used it to feed their servants—not their dinner party guests. In his 1876 book, “The Emigrant and Sportsman in Canada: Some Experiences of An Old Country Settler,” John J. Rowan wrote that “… lobster shells about a house are looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation.”

Years later, although some Americans were starting to actually like the taste of lobster, it still wasn’t a delicacy by any means—in fact, it was one of the few proteins not rationed during WWII, if you can believe that. So why the change? There’re many things that contributed to the rise of the “ocean cockroach” one being, as simple as it may sound, learning to cook the meat properly—which, as it turns out, is pretty easy.

Maine lobster season is year-round.

A lot of people are squeamish about cooking whole lobster at home—hey, I get it. But nonetheless, lobster is delicious and given the opportunity have it at home (for a much lower price than you’ll get in restaurants) I’ll take it. But before you head down the live lobster path, try your hand at cooking cold-water tails first. Easy peasy! Here’s how:

How to Cook Cold-water Lobster Tails

  • Maine lobster tails 8-10 ounces each (this is a pretty typical size)
  • Salt 2-3 Tbs for the water
  • Butter
  • Big stock pot, preferably one like I show here; with a detachable strainer

Fill pot with 2-3 inches of water; make sure lobster tails won’t be submerged. Salt water, bring to boil. Drop tails in, cover and let steam on high for 8-10 minutes. No more, no less. You do not want to overcook your lobster! Note, if you’re lucky enough to have a 20-ounce tail, steam for 12-13 minutes tops.

Remove with tongs and place on butcher paper of something similar. Carefully, pick up the tail and use sharp kitchen sheers to cut along the backside of the tail to allow the meat to separate. Serve with clarified butter for dipping: melt butter in microwave so it separates. Spoon the white film off the top. The remaining gold liquid is your clarified butter. Dish up and enjoy.

Thoughts? Have you ever made it at home or ordered it?

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  1. Gastro Gabe

    I love it when we role-play and I’m the servant and you feed me lobster:) The butter isnt just for dipping the lobster in…wink wink nudge nudge


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