The Daley Question

Wasting a tail?

Reader wants cleaner way with lobster meat

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Q: We like to splurge once in a while and have 8-ounce lobster tails. Because they are so expensive at the restaurant we wait until they are on sale at our local market. We put the frozen tails in boiling water then simmer for 7-8 minutes, remove them from the water, cut them in half (lengthwise), spread some butter on them, put them on a steak plate (flesh side up) and broil in oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and serve with melted butter for dipping. Problem: Many times all the edible portion does not come out of the shell and it is hard to retrieve. What a waste! Is there a better way to prepare them so the tails come out of the shells completely?

—Jack Gleason, Prospect Heights

A: I posed your question to Chef Jasper White. He is author of "Lobster at Home," among other cookbooks, and is owner of Jasper White's Summer Shack, (http://www.summershackrestaurant.com/index.asp) a group of well-regarded seafood restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

"Lobster tails are from rock lobsters and are usually frozen,'' White wrote in an email. "I don't use them in my restaurants and they are a different species — not true lobsters."

What White means by "true" lobsters — and I'm staying out of this debate over true or false — is called the Maine or American lobster, according to "The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion." That's the iconic lobster we all recognize with those big front claws. Rock lobster, also known as spiny lobsters, has no claws. Most of the meat is in the tail, the Companion notes, adding, "That meat is firmer, stringier and not quite as sweet as that of the Maine lobster."

Nevertheless, White took a stab at your problem. His verdict: These tails from what he calls "impostor lobster" were not defrosted properly.

"They should be defrosted slowly in the refrigerator. It will take 6 hours or more,'' he wrote. "The boiling is too long. I would boil for 1 minute only then split them and broil them for 3 or 4 minutes. They don't take long to cook."

Give Jasper White's method a try, Mr. Gleason, and let me know how it goes.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

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