Lobster – or crayfish/ kreef as they’re locally known – are regarded by many as the most delicious of all South African seafoods. Given the cost of these sweet, firm-textured crustaceans, cooking them to perfection is of paramount importance.
We have two golden rules here at Cape Fish:
- Underdone is better than overdone
- Less sauce, more flavour
When cooking lobster, you want the centre of the meat to still be slightly opaque and underdone. If you overcook the meat, you might as well eat blotting paper. It’ll lose the subtle flavour and turn rather bland. Avoid using lavish sauces and stay away from being too heavy handed on the garlic, lemon and chilli. The sauce should complement the lobster, not overpower it.
The Laws of Lobster
Defrosting your lobster :
- Defrost during the day: take your lobsters out in the morning before work and leave them in their plastic wrappers. Just pop them in the sink, so the defrosted water doesn’t run all over the kitchen counter. Before cooking, rinse them with cold water. No further preparation is needed!If you’re pushed for time, defrost your babies in a bath of lukewarm water.
Poaching/ steaming your lobster
This is a great way to cook lobster that’s served as a cold dish.
- Add a bit of water to a pot and bring to the boil.
- Aim to have a water depth around 2cm in the pot: just enough to create steam and not burn off when cooking. The lobster tail must not be “swimming” (floating) in the pot.
- Place ONE tail in the pot once the water is rapidly boiling.
- Place the lobster tail with the shell facing upwards.
- This is a tester tail… once you have nailed the timing, you can pop 2 – 3 in at a time.
- Steam with the lid half on. If you close the lid, it will boil over the side of the pot and make a mess.
- Steam for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the tail, take a sharp knife, and split the tail in half.
- The lobster tail should still be opaque in the middle, (it must look like a medium rare cooked steak – cooked for the first 1cm but undercooked in the middle).
- If it’s still very raw, pop the tail back in the pot for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Keep checking and record the timing. (Now you will know what time the tail takes to cook to perfection.)
- Remember to add a little bit of water after each batch of cooking.
- Lobster tails are like potatoes. They hold heat and continue to cook for quite a while after you take them out of the steaming pot. Hence the reason for taking them out of the pot slightly raw in the middle.
- Once you remove the tail from the pot, just pop them into a colander, so the excess water drains off and the lobster cools down to room temperature.
- Pop them in the fridge until ready to be served.
Braaing your lobster
- Butterfly the lobster tails by splitting the shell and meat with a sharp knife.
- Mix up your desired sauce but do not initially baste the lobster.
- Pop the lobster tails, with the meat facing down, onto the braai grid.
- This will char the lobster meat, giving it a bit more flavour.
- Flip the lobster over and the baste with the sauce, allowing the lobster tails to cook through.
- By braaing them in this manner, the basing sauce will pool in the shell cavity, absorb into the meat, and not run into the fire, undoubtably kick-starting a flame.
- A continuous burst of flames will just burn the meat and kill the flavour.
- Once again, you want the meat to be slightly underdone in the centre, so keep a watchful eye on those lobster tails and be sure to whip them off before they overcook.