The Caribbean Spiny Lobster
By Carlyne Rachele
Having the good fortune of sitting surfside at a restaurant or on a yacht in the balmy picture perfect British Virgin Islands while enjoying the freshest exquisitely prepared local seafood is a treasured and memorable experience, the stuff gourmand dreams are made of. The Caribbean islands are known for their unique seafood and its preparation and the popular local Caribbean spiny lobster enjoys a noteworthy place in the culinary world.
While traditional ingredients such as butter and garlic are often used, rum, hot peppers, jerk seasoning, lemongrass and mangoes are seen in local recipes as well. The Caribbean Spiny Lobster lacks the strong meaty claws of the New England and European Lobster yet pound for pound has more meat due to its larger body and tail. Almost everything in the body is edible and area restaurants look forward to a fresh supply from the local fishermen who harvest the offshore reefs of the area islands.
The Caribbean Spiny Lobster, or Panulirus argus as it is scientifically known, is a nocturnal animal that forages at night for its favorite foods such as clams, crabs and other invertebrates while using its spiny outer shell to repel enemies.
Spiny lobsters, which may only be harvested by government licensed British Virgin Islands fishermen, can be found in waters from three feet to 250 feet deep so traps or snorkeling or scuba gear is sometimes used when hunting.
Fishermen may also bring along a "tickle stick" when diving for these tasty crustaceans as the lobsters respond to their antennae being tickled and often come out of hiding to investigate. When acquiring a spiny lobster for preparation at home, only use live lobster or buy the meat frozen and vacuum packed.
Residents and travelers alike look forward to savoring locally prepared delights such as the Caribbean Spiny Lobster while enjoying some of the best tropical's views in the world. An appetizer of conch fritters is a good introduction to this main course. Add a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Champagne and one of life's pleasures becomes sublime.
Grilled Caribbean Spiny Lobster Tails
Spiny Lobster grilled on an open fire is a long time tradition in the Caribbean. Adding soaked fruitwood to a wood or coal grill will help to infuse the lobster meat with additional flavor.
- 4 lobsters
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small habanero chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 sliced lemon
- 1 green pepper, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oilt
While the grill is heating, boil the spiny lobster for about 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chili pepper, olive oil and salt. Once the lobster has cooled, remove the entire tail, shell and meat, the cut the shells lengthwise on the thin inside curve, a pair of scissors works well for this.
Place the tails in a bowl and brush 3/4 of the mixed ingredients of olive oil and spices to the lobster tails, mix thoroughly and set aside to marinate.
Add the remaining olive oil mixture to the green peppers and sauté the peppers until they begin to soften and then remove from the heat.
When the grill is ready, place the tail meat side down and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the shell is a lighter red, then turn and cook for another few minutes until the tail meat pulls away from the shell.
Reheat the green pepper mixture and serve the tails with the green pepper mixture on top for color and flavor. Add lemon slices for garnish. Whipped potato with sautéed shallots and grilled asparagus with lemon are good side dishes for grilled lobster tail.