How to Prepare and Broil Lobster Tails

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Dress halved lobster tails with herbed butter and lemon juice after broiling.
Dress halved lobster tails with herbed butter and lemon juice after broiling. (Image: og-vision/iStock/Getty Images)

Broiling lobster gives you the high heat that leads to tasty caramelized portions alongside tender, sweet meat without the fuss and trouble of using a grill. To broil lobster, butterfly the tails to expose the flesh, and brush with oil to prevent the meat from drying out. Because the flesh is close to the heat source, your seasoning choices are more limited as some options, such as sugar, burn and char too easily.

Butterflying the Tails

Cut lengthwise -- in the long direction of the tails -- along the center of the rounded portion of the lobster tails, until you hit the base of the tail fan. Use either kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife to cut the shell. Spread the cut shell apart using your hands, leaving the meat fully exposed. You can pull the meat partially out of the shell for more exposure. Remove the thin, white or black tubular membrane that runs lengthwise through the lobster. This is the digestive tract of the lobster and, while edible, it has a rubbery texture when cooked.

Flavoring the Tails

Rub salt and pepper directly onto the lobster meat with a bit of lemon juice for a fast, simple flavoring option. You can also choose to use finely minced garlic and some dried, powdered spices, such as cayenne, paprika or rosemary, to add flavor. However, avoid fresh herbs such as parsley and sugar or high-sugar sauces, such as red chill sauce. The high temperatures needed for broiling will mean that the seasonings can easily burn, leading to unpleasant charring. Brush the exposed meat with clarified butter; butter with the milk solids removed; olive oil; or vegetable oil to help seal in moisture. Let the seasoning sit on the meat for 15 to 20 minutes to allow it time to penetrate the flesh.

Preheating and Moisture

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and place your broiling pan inside. Fill your pan with a half-inch of water to help keep the tails moist during broiling. The larger the tails are, the farther the rack will need to be placed from the source of heat. In general, 6 to 8 inches below the heat source is ideal. For tails 8 ounces or larger, place 8 to 9 inches away from the top of the oven.

Broiling the Tails

Place the tails flesh-side up on the broiling tray, giving them a second brush with oil or clarified butter. To keep your tails from roasting rather than broiling, keep the oven door slightly ajar. Wear oven mitts and be wary of hot parts of the stove when broiling, as it is easy to burn yourself. Brush the tails with butter or oil every 2 minutes if you want, but this is not necessary. The tails are fully cooked when the shells turn bright red and the meat becomes opaque and white. The juices from the tails will also turn white. For an 8-ounce tail, it will take roughly 10 to 12 minutes to fully cook the lobster. If you are using a high-sugar glaze, such as teriyaki, brush on the sauce the final 2 minutes of cooking. Applying it too early can lead to burning. Rest the tails for 2 to 3 minutes before serving, tenting them with foil to prevent the lobster meat from drying out.

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