Learning how to broil lobster takes your cooking skills to the next level. The results are also sublime.
When preparing lobster, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. You can purchase fresh lobsters, meaning they are alive and will have to be “dispatched” by you, or you can buy frozen lobster tails, which look lovely on the plate and don’t require too much additional work.
For broiling, if its presentation you’re after, you may want to choose the tails since broiling whole lobsters is tricky and in order to get the best results you have to split them in half anyway. We’ll cover broiling both whole lobsters and the tails.
The Knife or the Pot
If you get fresh, live lobsters you have to be prepared to…kill them. Even if this doesn’t make you squeamish, do it as humanely as possible. One method requires the cook to pierce the head of the lobster with a sharp knife, positioning it about an inch behind the eyes and pressing the tip of the blade through the skull and in between the eyes, slicing straight down through the head.
The second method is to plunge the lobster, head first, into a pot of salted, boiling water. Since you are going to be broiling them, this should be your preferred method (easier and safer). The Maine Lobster Council suggests parboiling whole lobsters for a few minutes before broiling anyway. When preparing to kill lobsters, do leave the rubber bands wrapped securely around their claws so they can’t try to fend you off.
Broiling is basically a dry heat method of cooking, much like the barbecue or oven. Because lobster meat is fairly delicate and susceptible to drying out during the cooking process, if you are going to broil this shellfish, have plenty of basting butter at the ready and be prepared to frequently brush the meat while it cooks. You can add herbs and minced garlic into the melted butter for added flavor.
To broil whole lobsters, split them in half lengthwise and remove the coral and tomalley—the greenish intestinal debris. Rinse them well in cool water and crack the claws slightly prior to cooking. To lessen cooking time and to ensure even cooking, you can remove the meat from the claws and the tail and broil separately.
Preheat the broiler and broiler pan for 10 minutes and place the lobster on the second lowest rack, about four inches from the flame. Place the lobster on the pan with the shell side down and cook until the flesh becomes pearly white, about six to 10 minutes depending on the length of time the lobster parboiled first. Remember to slather the meat with butter or oil to prevent it from burning or drying out.
To broil frozen lobster tails, thaw them first in the refrigerator overnight. Then take a pair of kitchen scissors and carefully cut open the top of the shell, all the way towards the end of the tail, creating a “window,” which exposes the meat inside. When cutting, be careful not to cut into the meat. Again, preheat the broiler and coat the tails heavily in butter or oil. Place the tails about four inches from the flame and cook one minute for every ounce.
The toughest part about learning how to broil lobsters is getting the timing right and keeping them well basted so they stay nice and moist. Bon voyage!