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Test Kitchen tips: Keeping a lobster tail straight while cooking

November 12, 2012|By Noelle Carter
  • Lobster
Lobster (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

To keep a lobster tail straight while cooking, run a skewer through the center of the fan and up the length of the tail. If the lobster is whole, run the skewer all the way through. (To kill the lobster painlessly first, freeze it for a couple hours before preparing). As a lobster is cooked, the tail meat naturally wants to contract and curl; the skewer will keep it straight. This technique also works for large shrimp and prawns.

If you're boiling lobsters and are working with even numbers, you can also keep their tails straight by tying each pair together before boiling. Arrange the lobsters with their bellies touching and tails extended before tying; this will keep the tail meat straight without having to use skewers.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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Recipe: Bogavante a la gallega (Galician lobster)

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Note:From Chef José Andrés, who writes, "This dish is inspired by the classic pulpo a la gallega, which is boiled octopus sprinkled with pimentón, olive oil and sea salt. It exemplifies the simplicity of northern Spanish cooking. Here I use lobster -- a genuine American ingredient -- which is much quicker to cook than octopus (which takes about an hour). It's important to watch the cooking time closely so that the lobster does not become rubbery."

2 tablespoons fine sea salt

1/4 cup Spanish olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 large potato, cut into 1/4 -inch cubes

1 Maine lobster, about 1 1/2 pounds

1/4 teaspoon pimentón (sweet Spanish paprika)

Coarse sea salt for garnish

1. In an 8-quart pot, combine 4 quarts water, the salt, oil and bay leaf. Place the peppercorns in a sachet or tea ball and add to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

2. Add the potatoes and lobster, cover and boil for 8 minutes.

3. Check the potatoes to make sure they are tender. Strain and keep warm.

4. Continue to cook the lobster just until the meat is opaque and firm, 1 to 2 minutes more (to check for doneness, pull apart the tail slightly and crack the claws). Don't overcook the lobster or the meat will be tough and rubbery. Drain the pot, reserving the lobster. Cut open the tail, remove the meat and slice it crosswise into six medallions. Place the slices back in the tail.

5. Arrange the lobster and potatoes on a serving dish. Using a small sieve, evenly sprinkle the pimentón over the lobster and potatoes. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Each of 4 servings: 113 calories; 11 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 32 mg. cholesterol; 520 mg. sodium.

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