Shellfish is one of my favorite foods, and I love lobster. I think of lobster as a luxury, a special treat. I love it even more when I can snap it up on sale.
For at least the second time this summer my local grocery store has had frozen 5-ounce lobster tails on sale for $5.
At half off it's still a little pricey, given one tail yields just a bit more than half a cup. (For today's recipe you'll need 3 tails.) When they are on sale I'll buy several and tuck them away in the freezer. I've had good luck keeping them, packed in freezer bags, at least 6 months.
Buying just the tails is ideal if you're squeamish about cooking a whole live lobster or picking apart a cooked one.
Since lobster tails cook quickly they lend themselves to easy dishes. In the summer, I like lobster tails on the grill. Before grilling, I'll sometimes soak them in a brine of 4 quarts water mixed with 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar for about 2 hours before grilling. Brining plumps them up and flavors them a bit.
Before grilling, rinse the tails and then split them in half lengthwise through the tail. A good pair of scissors or kitchen shears does the trick. To keep them moist on the grill, brush the tails lightly with an herbed butter. And I do mean lightly -- don't drown them in butter.
For an herb butter, my go-to herb is basil because my basil plants are doing super. Soften 1/2 stick of unsalted butter and mix it with fresh chopped basil and a pinch of sea salt. Tarragon is another herb that pairs well with lobster.
Today's Lobster Cakes are terrific for a summer lunch or dinner. The cakes are made as you would crab cakes using chunks of lobster meat instead.
Here are a few more ideas for using cooked lobster meat:
Lobster rolls: These are a mainstay in Maine and commonly found at seafood shacks. Chunks of cooked lobster (sometimes dipped in butter) are mixed with homemade mayonnaise, seasonings and loosely stuffed in a split top hot dog roll and then drizzled with melted butter. Can you say yum?
Salads or chowders: Top mixed greens salads with cooked lobster meat and drizzle with a light vinaigrette. Add cooked lobster meat to corn or seafood chowders.
Lobster and corn risotto: Make your favorite risotto recipe using warm seafood broth or clam juice as your hot liquid in place of chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in cooked chunks of lobster meat near the end when the rice is almost tender, along with fresh basil and Parmesan. I adapted this idea from "Lobster! 55 Fresh and Simple Recipes" by Brooke Dojny (Storey Publishing, $14.95).
LOBSTER CAKES WITH SWEET AND SPICY CILANTRO MAYO
3 lobster tails
1 large egg
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon
2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons celery leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon canola oil
Mixed greens with favorite vinaigrette
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon Asian-style sweet chili sauce
Mixed greens with favorite vinaigrette
In a steamer basket set over boiling water, place the lobster tails. Cover and cook the lobster tails for 8 minutes or until shells are bright red and meat is opaque. When cool enough to handle, cut shells open using scissors and remove the meat. Coarsely chop the meat.
In a medium bowl, mix together the egg, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, green onions, celery leaves, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. Fold in the chopped lobster meat and panko breadcrumbs. Mix gently trying not to break up the lobster pieces. Shape into four patties about 1/2-inch thick. Place on a plate and chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile make the Cilantro Mayo: In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, cilantro and chili sauce; set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cakes and cook about 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
For each serving, place a bed of mixed greens on a plate. Top with two cakes for a dinner portion and top with a dollop of cilantro-mayo.
Makes 4 cakes.
Analysis per 1 lobster cake: 196 calories (33 percent from fat), 7 gram fat (1 gram sat. fat), 17 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 735 mg sodium, 99 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.