In Australia, it’s Summer around Christmastime. It kind of throws a spanner in the works of a lush winter meal like roast followed by pudding with steaming custard, mulled wine and egg-nog. There are still some that hang to tradition, but if you ask them, most people under 50 would say they prefer a seafood Christmas. We go all Paul-Hogan and colloquial, and “throw a shrimp on the barbie“. But the funny thing is, we don’t call them “shrimp” here, they’re prawns (all except the tiny little ones, which are the things we call shrimp). And for Christmas, many of us go all-out, and upgrade to lobster.
Lobster is not scary. Just don’t overcook it, or it goes tough. As soon as the flesh has lost any translucency, it’s good to go, and remember it will continue to cook a little in that shell until it’s cracked open like a Christmas present. Make sure the whole shell is red – sometimes when you grill things you miss a tricky corner.
- Lobster tails, cleaned
- fresh herbs (I love tarragon, but chives, parsley and oregano are also great)
- black mustard seeds – about 1/2 teaspoon per lobster
- crushed garlic – 1 clove per lobster
- butter – about 1tbsp per lobster
- olive oil – about 1 tsp per lobster
- salt and pepper
- cut the lobster shell about 2/3 down the back (the bit without the wiggly bits), and make sure it is perfectly clean inside, then stuff with a couple of sprigs of herbs, a sprinkling of mustard seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Throw on a nice hot barbecue (or grill), leg-side down first. Cook for about 8 minutes, then turn, cooking for about 4 minutes on each top side (it will curl so it won’t lie flush on its back)
- While the lobster is cooking, gently fry the garlic in a little olive oil, and try not to brown it. Soften for about 3 minutes, then add butter and melt through. Season well, and add chopped herbs if you like.
- Pour all over the cooked lobster and serve.
- If you can’t buy the tails on their own, get whole lobster. Have a look here for a fairly good demonstration of cleaning them.
- Just in case you don’t know, if the lobster is red, it has already been cooked. You will be looking for a greenish or brown lobster.
- Depending on the size, most people will need a full lobster tail for a main meal, but little else other than salad.
- Here’s a good site for choosing lobster… have fun!
My instructions for preparing lobster:
- kill it (if it’s not already dead) – 30 minutes in the freezer or a knife between the eyes will do it.
- Pull the head off (it comes off fairly easily, like a prawn head, with a twist and a tug)
- pull out all the gooey bits (they will be green, black and orange, and there may also be roe on the base on a frozen lobster – it’s bright red) just as you would when cleaning a prawn. I cut down the back for this recipe, so it helps me get to the entire tract without having to dig from the base of the tail.
- Sometimes the frayed ends of meat have stains on them from the innards – cut off the worst bits, but don’t get too fussy.
- The lobsters I use don’t have claws (Omani lobsters), but if yours does, keep these – they have a decent amount of flesh in them. You can twist those off the head and throw them on the BBQ too (but you will need implements to get into them)