The Secret to Cooking Maine Lobster Tails at Home
Lobster tails. Ahhh, need we say more? Arguably the most delicious part of the lobster, which is why so many restaurants serve the tails a la carte, no body or claws included, typically in pairs with a side of melted butter to turn an already perfect meal into something almost heavenly. At Weathervane we are no different, serving lobster every which way, including fresh fried lobster tails, split battered and fried until golden brown as well as our delicious Lobster Pie; the tender meat from a whole lobster, including the succulent tail topped with our homemade crabmeat stuffing.
Over the last 45 years we have perfected our methods and honed our recipes, serving up some of the best lobster tails in town. Now we want to share some of our tips with you, so you can make your own lobster tail dinner in the comforts of your own home.
Buying the Lobster Tails
Preparing a lobster tail dinner can be cheaper than cooking whole lobsters because you only have to buy the tails. You can buy them through a number of seafood stores, in person or online. Buyer beware though, don’t just go out and grab the first lobster tails you come across. You need to know what you’re buying and there is one factor that can make all the difference…where the lobster was raised.
Warm Water vs. Cold Water
There is a reason why Maine has a lobster on its license plate. The water in Maine is cold, it’s very cold, and when it comes to a lobster that’s a good thing. Warm water lobsters typically come from places like Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America and tend to be softer and more difficult to firm up even when cooked properly. It has also been reported that warm water lobsters have a slight ammonia odor. Cold water lobsters on the other hand have firm, whiter meat that tastes “cleaner.” The cold water allows the lobsters to grow slower which makes for tastier more tender meat.
When purchasing your lobster tails, be sure to ask the provider if the lobster was caught in cold or warm water. If they don’t know, this is a warning sign to go elsewhere. You can also typically tell a warm water lobster because they have black spots covering their shells. Cold water lobster tails will almost always be more expensive than warm water lobster tails, but for good reason, they taste better. When it comes to lobster tails, don’t sacrifice flavor for a few bucks.
Cooking the Lobster Tails
There are a few cooking methods to choose from when it comes time to preparing your lobster tail meal.
While there are many different recipes available for grilled lobster tails, we recommend keeping it simple by grilling with olive oil and then lathering in herb butter. Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Preheat your grill to medium high heat.
- Butterfly the lobster tails using kitchen shears or scissors. To butterfly your lobster tails, just cut down the top of the tail, length wise, pull the shell away from the meat freeing the meat but keeping the bottom in tact. For a detailed explanation with pictures click here.
- Rinse the lobster tails with cold water
- Next, brush the meat with olive oil.
- Place your tails shell down on the grill. When your tails have turned opaque, about 10-12 minutes, you will know they are done. Be careful not to overcook your tails however as they will become very rubbery.
¼ Cup Softened Butter
1tsp Herb de Provence
You may want to add lemon or any other combination of herbs in place of the herbs de provence. Whatever combination you decide, combine all the ingredients and brush the grilled lobsters with the herb butter.
Boiling lobster tails is quick, easy and doesn’t even require you to butterfly your tails. Just throw them in the pot until they are bright red and voila! Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil
- Add the lobster tails
- Simmer for 8-12 minutes
- You will know when your tails are done when they have turned bright red and the meat is tender
- Cut the shells lengthwise to expose the meat before serving
Steaming is the easiest and healthiest way to cook the lobster tails. If you are at all weary about cooking lobster tails at home, this is the method for you. Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Fill a pot with 1 inch of water, place a steaming basket on top and and bring the water to a boil.
- Butterfly your lobster tails.
- Place your lobster tails in the center of the steaming basket
- Steam for roughly 1 minute per 1 oz of lobster (the average lobster tail from a one pound Maine lobster weighs 4 oz)
- You will know your lobster tails are done when they have turned white and are firm to the touch
- Season with lemon and butter and serve with a small dish of melted butter
For an extra kick of flavor add a garlic clove to the boiling water when cooking.
Baking is another simple method for cooking lobster tails. You don’t need any special tools and the chances of over cooking your lobster tails are slim. Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Butterfly lobster tails
- Place tails in a baking pan
- Brush the tail meat with lemon juice and melted butter then sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley
- Bake for 25 minutes
- The meat should be firm and opaque when done
Serving the Lobster Tails
You have your lobster tails cooked. Congrats! Now you need to know what to serve them with to complete your meal. Here are a few menu ideas:
- Lobster tail with a side of butter, corn on the cob, ciabatta bread and a summer garden salad
- Lobster tail with a side of butter, twice baked potato and creamy coleslaw
- Surf and Turf: Lobster tail with a side of butter, sirloin steaks and a side salad
- Lobster tail with a side of butter, risotto, dinner roll and steamed veggies
Remember to garnish your lobster tails with a wedge of lemon and serve with an ice-cold drink!
Now that you have successfully cooked a lobster tail meal, you may be ready for the whole thing! While the tail may be the favorite part of the lobster for many of us, there is no denying the tender deliciousness of the claws or the salty taste of the lobster legs. All together they create the nirvana of seafood. Plus, if you ask us, a New England summer is not complete without a traditional lobster meal – bibs, claw crackers, large bowls and lots of napkins included. For tips on the best way to cook a whole lobster read, Tips and Tricks: How to Cook a Fresh Maine Lobster in 4 Steps.
At Weathervane, we love our lobsters and we love our community. We hope that these tips will be helpful as you cook your very own lobster meal. If you have any questions or want to try our mouth watering fried lobster tails, stop in at one of our many locations throughout Maine and New Hampshire.