Stuffed lobster tails ... for your valentine
Grilled lobster tail and black beans and rice salad makes for a simple but special dinner.
Heather Little-White, Contributor
Food has long been associated with sexual desire and expression, especially for celebrations of one kind or the other. Romantic dinner for two is a signature activity of Valentine's Day celebrations and preparing the meal for your loved one makes the celebration even more special. A special menu utilises seafood known for its aphrodisiac properties.
Shellfish, including oysters, clams and lobsters, have a long history of being considered edible aphrodisiacs, that is, foods that can increase sexual potency or desire. Lobsters are a good source of B12 and zinc, nutrients vital to maintaining sexual desire. Other foods for seduction in the Valentine's meal include Spicy Citrus Shrimp, as shrimp is high in iodine and vital to the thyroid gland for energy.
As a sweet ending, you can choose Chocolate Mocha Baked Alaska. Not only does chocolate provide a jolt of caffeine, as well as phenyl-ethylamine (PEA), which occurs naturally in the brain, it reputedly stimulates the pleasure centres during intercourse.
A stuffed lobster tail is to die for! Cooked as part of the ultimate romantic dinner, it provides meat and pure pleasure, without the hassle of a whole lobster. A stuffed lobster tail, baked to perfection, is a sight to behold, and is typical of any gourmet-style presentation.
The tail of the lobster contains the bulk of the meat in a lobster. The tails are easy to prepare at home, adding extravagance to your table instead of depending of having them in a restaurant. Lobster tails can broiled, steamed or baked, stuffed with your favourite seasonings and breadcrumbs and served with lavish amounts of melted butter.
Storing and purchasing
Lobsters are caught all across the world. The sweeter ones are those from colder waters, compared with those from warmer waters. Lobster tails are best purchased frozen, as they deteriorate quickly after they are killed. The tails are flash-frozen on the fishing boats and should be kept frozen until cooked. Frozen lobster tails should be free from large cracks and breaks. Avoid selecting those that are very icy.
If you have fresh lobster, you should cook it quickly and then freeze. You may enjoy the adventure of catching your lobsters, so you should take note of the lobster 'season' from June through early to mid-November. It is illegal to catch lobsters in the closed season, so designated to preserve the species.
WHEN THE TAIL CURLS
Lobster tails curl naturally when cooked. To prevent lobster tails from curling up while steaming, run a wooden skewer through the length of each tail. This makes for better presentation.
Another method to prevent curling involves splitting the tails in half lengthwise. Split by starting at the fan and slice the knife down and through the meat. Holding the cut side up, run a skewer through the meat, as close to the upper shell as possible. Cook the tail as directed and remove skewer when done.
You can also butterfly the tails by using a kitchen knife to carefully make a slit down the middle of the tail's underside.
TIP: According to www.CuisineAtHome, if you do not have skewers, tie a wooden spoon or serving spoon to the underside of the lobster tail with pieces of kitchen string.
STUFFED BAKED LOBSTER TAILS
Change to: Servings US Metric
2 (6-8oz) frozen lobster tails
salt and fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 slices white bread
1 tbsp parsley (chopped)
2 tbsps butter
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
1. Thaw lobster one to two days in refrigerator or place in a clean bowl under cool running water until completely thawed.
2. To make stuffing, tear bread into small pieces.
3. Chop parsley.
4. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add parsley and crushed garlic into skillet. Saute for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add bread, thyme, salt, and pepper. If it is not holding together, you can add a tiny bit of milk or water. Mix to blend and set aside.
5. Heat oven to 450F.
6. Split topside of lobster shell down centre with scissors, keeping tail fan intact. Pull shell open. Lift tail meat, leaving it attached at fan end, and lay over top of shell, piggyback style.
7. Make a cut down centre of meat 1/4 inch deep. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Pour wine into an 8x8-inch baking dish. Place lobster tails in dish. Spoon stuffing over top of meat. Bake (uncovered) 10-12 minutes in centre of oven until meat turns from translucent to opaque (white).
9. Remove from oven when internal temperature reaches 140F.
10. Drizzle pan juices lightly over lobster and serve immediately with clarified butter and lemon wedges.
For clarified butter:
Melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat until frothy. Pour into a small glass measuring cup. Let stand 5 minutes.
Skim foam from the top with a spoon and discard. Pour off clear, clarified butter to use for dipping. Discard solids left in bottom of cup.
Recipe: Alan Leonetti, RecipeZaar
You may wonder how a master chef gets the lobster tail to perch up on its shell.
1. Using a kitchen shear, cut down the centre of the tail's shell up to the fan but make sure not to penetrate the meat.
2. Pull the shell apart until it cracks.
3. Gently lift out the meat through the cut, pulling up and out towards the fan. Leave the tail end of the meat connected and close the shell.
4. Lay the meat back on top of the shell. Clean any remaining vein or bits of shell by rinsing under cold water.
5. Lightly brush the lobster tails with butter and set them six to eight inches apart under the broiler. Broil just until meat is firm and starts to split lightly (about 5 minutes).
Options abound after steaming or baking lobster tails. They can be used to make a lobster stew or rich and robust lobster bisque. Chilled lobster tails are excellent for a heart salad.
Heather Little-White, PhD, is a nutrition and lifestyle consultant in Kingston. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 922-6223.
A sample menu using categories from Grace and Sonia Bailey's Food for Love reads:
Stuffed Baked Lobster Tails
Spicy Citrus Shrimp
Dressed Green Salad
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Chocolate Mocha Baked Alaska
1. Thaw frozen lobster tails in refrigerator for eight to 10 hours or in a microwave oven with an auto-defrost setting. They can also be thawed under cold running water.
2. Slitting the tails is more attractive for presentation and makes for easy eating.
3. Devein the split tail, looking closely at the edge of the shell.
The question is: how to cook lobster tails? Contrary to what persons may think, cooking lobster tails is very easy, whichever method you may choose.
Steaming: As a moist-heat cooking method, steaming the tails in water or white wine prevents them from drying out. The liquid can be reduced in a saucepan. Add herbs like tarragon, parsley, rosemary and finish the sauce with butter or cream. (www.ochef.com). The protein will not be overcooked with this method.
Broiling: A flavourful and eye-appealing method, and for even cooking of the tails because of their thickness, it is best to boil them for a few minutes, then brush with butter and place under the broiler for a few minutes. However, as a dry-heat cooking method, be careful of overcooking.
Grilling: Also a dry-heat method, this cooking method allows moisture to evaporate, but it intensifies the flavours. Oil the surface of the grill to keep the tails from sticking. Be careful not to overcook tails while on the grill.
Baking: This is where your special breadcrumb stuffing will be showcased. Preheat oven at 400F. Stuff lobster tails with your favourite herbed breadcrumbs and bake for eight-10 minutes. Serve with lemon juice and lots of butter. For this classic dish, there is nothing wrong with lobster drizzled with lemon juice and melted butter.