Although seafood, like lobster, is best when cooked fresh, but fresh lobsters are only available in a few locations. Most areas of the country have access to frozen lobster tails, which can be found in most supermarkets. When you buy lobster tails, you are not getting Maine lobster as the bigger they are the less meat is in the tail, but you are buying rock or spiny lobster tails.
Most lobster tails that you buy frozen in the supermarket are probably spiny lobster tails that come from off the coast of the Caribbean, Latin America or Florida. Spiny lobsters can be found like warm water and rock lobsters can be found in either cold or warm waters.
Tips for Buying Lobster Tails
While the packaging may not indicate where the lobster came from, there are distinguishing marks that will allow you to tell whether it is warm or cold-water lobster. Warm water lobsters will have distinct yellow spots on the shell and a yellow band across the tail. The meat of a warm water lobster can be mushier than cold-water lobsters and of lower quality.
Cold-water lobsters, which are usually from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, will often be more expensive, but the meat is whiter and more tender because the lobster grows slowly in colder waters. The meat is also firmer than warm water lobster.
If you notice the discoloration on the meat of the lobster, such as black spots, don’t buy it as it wasn’t handled properly. If the tail is grayish in color, that means the lobster wasn’t alive during processing and it should be avoided as well.
Preparing Frozen Lobster Tails
The lobster tail should be thawed before it is cooked, otherwise the result will be tough meat and wasted money. To thaw a frozen lobster tail, set it in the refrigerator for about 24-hours or, if you want it to thaw faster, you can put it into a plastic bag and immerse it in water when you thaw it in the refrigerator.
After the lobster has thawed, cut a slit in the center of shell using a pair of kitchen shears and lift the uncooked tail through the slit to sit on the shell. Do not remove the undershell nor cut off the tail fan.
Once this has been done, you can cook the lobster tails anyway you like, whether poached, grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.