How to Grill Lobster

How to Grill Lobster

Great shot of a maine lobster from Flickr.

Great shot of a Maine lobster from Flickr.

Grilling lobster is one of the best ways to impress your friends with your charcoal prowess. We’ll cover each and every step and provide tips along the way to guarantee success.

Most people won’t ever grill a lobster, and that’s a tragedy. I grew up on the coast of New Hampshire; true New England. We were a grilling family. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, nor blizzard… We had lobster once every couple of months. We grilled lobster zero times. Looking back, it was a childhood lost.

Grill a lobster. Done well, the unique flavor is unmatched. This technique adds something that just can’t be matched by any other method, even baking.

Before we begin, here’s what you need to know:

  • Never, do not ever, rinse a lobster after splitting it. Bye bye flavor.
  • Spiny lobsters are not lobsters. Go Maine. (Unless you’re west coast; then go local)
  • Charcoal is the way to go here.

You will need:

  • 1 1.5-2.0 lb Maine Live Lobster per person
  • 2 sticks of butter. Salted.
  • A shell / lobster cracker
  • A large pot to boil the lobster in
  • Charcoal grill with natural hardwood briquettes

The strategy:

  • Purchase good lobster
  • Prepare some clarified butter
  • Get the grill going
  • Parboil that lobster
  • Half the lobster, clean it, crack the claws
  • Throw it on the grill
  • Baste with clarified butter
  • Cook until the tail is opaque
  • Enjoy an unbeatable crustacean

How to Buy a Lobster

Adding herbs is a great way to add another dimension of flavor.

Adding herbs is a great way to add another dimension of flavor.

The optimal lobster for grilling is a 1.5-2lb hard shell Maine lobster. It’s a hearty beast with a great taste and texture and in my (correct) opinion, nothing compares. Like any other seafood, purchase your next meal from a place that sells a good amount of seafood. Choose a lively lobster. If it dies by the time you get home, you will have wasted an incredible amount of money.

Preparing Clarified Butter

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a sauce pan or double boiler. The key is to be gentle. Bring the butter to a boil, and wait for the solids to collect at the bottom. You can carefully pour or baste the clarified/drawn butter off the top.

Get the Grill Going

I only call this part out seprately because it’s very important to me that you’re using good, high quality, natural hardwood charcoal. It burns better, it smells better, and in tastes better. Believe me, you will be able to tell the difference and it will be great.

Parboil the Lobster

Boil sea-salted water. Put the lobster in the water. Cook it for 5 minutes.

Preparing the Lobster for the Grill

Most people do not enjoy splitting a lobster. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut from the back down through the head, and then finish the split through the tail. Clean out the tamale by scooping/scraping. Under no circumstance should you rinse it out, as you’ll be rinsing away precious and expensive flavor. If you can get a good angle at the vein… now is the time to go for it. Crack the claws with a cracker or split them with a sharp knife.

Shell Meets Grill

Move out to the grill, and place the lobster shell-side down. Some people say to put the lobster on a baking pan, foil, or a pie plate; the theory being that it spreads out the heat evenly. I disagree. Take care to keep the heat even from the start and you’ll get a better flavor from the charcoal, and vapors and smoke from the drippings. Baste with the clarified butter as often as you feel comfortable. When thickest part of the lobster is opaque, it’s ready to enjoy.

In Summary

Grilling lobster is relatively easy to master once you get over the fear of ruining $20-40 of sweet seafood. It’s an art that is under appreciated and by my estimation, the best way to enjoy New England’s red bounty.

[Header image source.]