Earlier this month I joined my husband and his family on their annual trip to the Florida Keys for the opening of lobster season for the first time! I found out quickly that they are serious about their lobstering! They scout out the holes they’ve marked in their GPS from past years during the few days leading up to open season. Opening Day, August 6th, is an early day for the family and we stay out until we’ve reached our maximum of 6 lobsters per license.
Spotting and catching lobster requires a snorkel, mask, tickle stick, net, and measuring device. First, you have to “drag” behind the boat, which means you hold a tow line as the boat moves at a slow speed while wearing your mask and snorkel and surveying the ocean floor at about 10 feet or less for lobster holes. After spotting a lobster hole, you use your tickle stick to entice the lobster to come out of the hole. You must have your net ready as they use their tail to propel themselves backwards (and they can be fast!). Once you catch one, you must immediately measure it to make sure it’s 3 inches from between the eyes to the end of the carapace (just before the tail begins). Of course it takes some time to find the right ones as they must meet the minimum requirements to keep. Measuring the lobster was usually my job as the others were more experienced and were responsible to catch the lobster!
When I said my husband’s family was serious and experienced with their lobstering, I meant it. They bring a vacuum sealer and a freezer to freeze the lobsters almost immediately after cleaning! This worked out well for us as we were able to bring 14 tails home!
Once we returned home I was anxious to flip through my Junior League of Tampa cookbooks to find a lobster recipe to get cooking right away! I landed upon the Florida Lobster with Lemon Basil Butter recipe in Capture the Coast and knew it was going to be first on the list! It is extremely simple, but the cooking directions helped us ensure it was grilled just right. The butter sauce was surprisingly flavorful even with the very few ingredients required. We will definitely be having this one again!
Florida Lobster with Lemon Basil Butter from Capture the Coast
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
4 (6 to 8 ounce) fresh Florida lobster tails, thawed
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the grill. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. Add the lemon zest. Pour into small bowl (I split between 2 bowls to use one before cooked and the other after). Split each lobster tail into halves lengthwise using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Note that you will need to cut off the hard bottom shell if these are not store bought. Brush the exposed lobster meat lightly with the lemon butter. Place lobster meat side down on a grill rack. Grill over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly marked. Turn and grill for 5 to 7 minutes longer or until the lobster meat is white and firm, brushing with more of the lemon butter, if desired. Remove from the grill. Stir the basil into the remaining lemon butter. Brush each lobster tail with the lemon basil butter. Serve with the remaining lemon basil butter for dipping.
Only 12 more lobsters to continue testing recipes on!
You can find all of our lobster recipes in our Junior League of Tampa cookbooks at http://www.jltampa.org/cookbooks.