Lobster tails are sold frozen, either raw or precooked. If the shell is a bright red color, or the meat is opaque, white with slight red mottling, the lobster tail has been precooked and can be eaten as-is after defrosting. While precooked lobster tails make for simpler preparation, they can be tricky, because reheating can sometimes cause the meat to dry out or become overcooked.
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Precooked lobster tails are most commonly sold frozen. Keep them frozen until you are ready to use, and then defrost in the refrigerator 1 day prior. Defrost the tails either in their plastic packaging or in a food safe, sealed container. The tails can also be submerged -- still wrapped -- in cold water for faster defrosting. Slow defrosting is important to ensure there is minimal chance of bacteria developing on the food. You can also defrost lobster tails in the microwave, cooking on the defrost setting for 2 minutes, continuing at 1 minute intervals until the tails are fully defrosted. This method may lead to uneven heating however, so rotate the tails as they are defrosting.
Reheating Shell-On Tails
While you can reheat lobster in a number of ways, wet-heat methods are recommended for shell-on lobster, as the cooking process helps keep the meat moist. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then submerge the tails in the water for no more than 4 minutes. Steaming lobster is a gentler way of reheating lobster, while still keeping it moist. Steam thawed, cooked lobster for 4 to 5 minutes. Reheat the tails until the internal minimum temperature reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Reheating Shelled Tails
If your lobster tail has been de-shelled -- there is only the tail meat -- you can slice the meat into smaller pieces and add it directly to soups, stews or sauces. Cook only until the meat is warmed through, often no more than 1 to 2 minutes. If you are reheating shelled lobster meat by steaming or boiling, cook for no more than 1 1/2 minutes. As with shell-on tails, heat until the internal temperature of the meat reads 145 F on a food thermometer.
Using Cooked Lobster Tails
Warmed, pre-cooked lobster tails can be served warm just like freshly cooked tails. Snip through the top of the shell, partially pulling out the meat, to make a butterflied tail presentation, brushing with clarified butter to season the lobster and keep the meat moist. The tails can also be halved before or after warming and dressed with fresh spices or herbs. Cold lobster meat -- not warmed back up -- can also be used, tossed with vinaigrette for a simple salad, or with mayonnaise for a classic lobster roll.
- The J. Lionel Maine Lobster Company: Preparation Guide
- Legal Sea Foods: Cooking Instructions
- What's Cooking America: Frozen Lobster Tails
- Lobster Landing: Cooking Your Lobster
- Serious Eats: The Food Lab -- How to Cook and Shuck a Lobster
- Canadian Living: Loving Lobster -- 15 Succulent Lobster Recipes
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart