What happens when lobster tails go on sale for five dollars a pop?
You buy them. All of them. And then you make this Easy Lobster Scampi with Linguini.
Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t like lobster a year ago?
It’s true. I didn’t despise it or anything, it was just always consistently alright, and wasn’t something I got excited about like so many others do. I had ordered it at various restaurants and prepared it at home on a handful of occasions, but each time it was exceedingly underwhelming. It was either rubbery and over-cooked or worse, gummy and a weird off-putting clear color. Ugh. I had all but categorized myself as purely a shrimp and crab crustacean lover until I took a local cabbie’s advice when Kev and I were in Santorini around this time last year and ordered the most life-changing lobster spaghetti at a little seaside restaurant in Ammoudi Bay.
And when I say life changing, I’m not exaggerating in the slightest; I kid you not, this lobster spaghetti changed the way I view lobster entirely. This lobster was perfectly cooked, so sweet and irresistibly tender—unlike anything I’d encountered previously. Kev and I devoured the gargantuan platter of two whole (very large) spiny lobsters without even blinking an eye. Even though I was uncomfortably stuffed when it was over, I still could have polished off another entire lobster on my own, and might have even cried a little when I couldn’t pull one more piece of meat out from the tiny cracks and crevices.
At first I thought my newfound lobster love was due to the fact that I was in one of the best spots in the world for spiny lobster or maybe because I’d never had a spiny lobster before (they have no claws), only a Maine lobster (of which I’ve never had in Maine or anywhere on the east coast), but was holding on to the hope it was just due to poor preparation both at the restaurants I’d tried it at and within my own household.
I can still remember the first time I tried to make lobster tail for Kev. It was the first Valentine’s Day where we weren’t awkwardly dating and doing the are we or aren’t going to spend Valentine’s Day together dance. It was a weeknight and we’d opted to stay in and cook dinner (well, me cook dinner, him eat dinner); I settled on a simple meal of filets, twice-baked potatoes, a few other things I can’t remember for the life of me, and lobster tails.
I bathed them in butter and garlic. I par-boiled them (mistake). I wrapped them in foil and baked them (bigger mistake). I’m still kind of ashamed to admit how tough and overcooked they turned out. Long story short, it wasn’t good and left both Kevin and I convinced lobster wasn’t really our thing.
After our Grecian lobster encounter, I knew I had to erase the Valentine’s Day disaster from my head make lobster work back in the states. Immediately upon our return, I bit the bullet and purchased two whole lobsters hoping and praying I could perfect the cooking process.
And I did.
Since that day, my home preparations have been 100% successful; unfortunately my restaurant experiences haven’t been so lucky. (I’ll go into my method below.)
Which brings us to today’s easy lobster scampi. (And trust me, it’s SO easy.)
My mother-in-law, Karyl was in town over the weekend and happens to adore shellfish, so when the stars aligned and I spotted lobster on sale at our neighborhood market, I knew immediately that’s what we’d be having for dinner. (Plus I’ll use any excuse to pick up some lobster tail.)
I didn’t want to do anything too crazy or over the top, since I really wanted the inherent sweetness of the lobster to shine through, so I settled on a little twist on shrimp scampi, and ended up with this Easy Lobster Scampi with Linguini. Of course, as the title implies, I swapped out the shrimp for lobster in the classic preparation, for a little more upscale version.
I have a method when it comes to cooking lobster tail, instead of cooking it whole which I believe leads uneven cooking, I take kitchen shears and cut lengthwise down the center so the tail is in two separate, even pieces with all of the flesh exposed.
I season with salt and pepper and throw into a pre-heated pan (about a medium to medium-high heat) shell side down in either butter or olive oil. As the shells starts to turn a bright red color, I spoon some of the fat over the flesh of the lobster. Once it cooks for a few minutes, I flip it over so the flesh side is down and let it cook until the entire shell is bright red and the flesh has turned white. It’s important to remove the tails from the hot pan immediately, because they quickly overcook if left to sit in a hot pan.
Here, I started with a base of butter and garlic (10 large cloves to be exact), cooked the lobster as aforementioned and removed it immediately when both the shell turned bright red and the flesh was firm to the touch and white. I removed the meat from the shell, chopped it into (large) bite-sized pieces and then set it aside while I prepared the rest of the sauce.
To the pan, I added more butter, a good amount of lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and plenty of salt. Hot linguini was immediately added into the pan and tossed in the mixture and then drizzled with a touch more olive oil. As always I kept the starchy cooking liquid and used it to loosed up the sauce and coat the noodles. The amount you use is really up to you, I don’t like the sauce to be super loose, just enough so each noodle can easily twirl around my fork.
The pasta is seasoned to perfection before adding in a good amount of flat-leaf parsley and all of the lobster pieces just until they’re heated through. I garnish with more flat-leaf parsley, a little bit of lemon zest and serve with crispy grilled ciabatta bread (this recipe would go perfectly).
A simple meal, but full of so much flavor, and of course, perfectly cooked lobster.
- 1 pound linguini
- 4- 5 ounce lobster tails
- 6 tablespoons of butter, divided
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 tablespoons lemon
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flake
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Season liberally with salt. It should taste like the sea. Add pasta. Cook until just under aldente. Reserve cooking liquid.
- Using kitchen shears, cut each lobster tail length-wise so there are two equal pieces and the flesh is showing. Season flesh with salt and pepper.
- In a large saute pan, add four tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. Once it's melted add lobster tails and garlic. Cook lobster tails shell side down for 1-2 minutes until they start to turn slightly red, spoon some of the garlic and butter over the flesh as it cooks. Flip so that the lobster is flesh side down, make sure it cooks in the butter and garlic. Cook another 1-2 minutes until shell is bright red and meat is white. Do not overcook!!!
- Remove lobster tails, trying to get off all the garlic off. Remove meat from the shells and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Add remaining butter to the pan along with lemon juice, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Add linguini and salt, toss to coat and add olive oil.
- If needed add starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce up.
- Add lobster and parsley back into the pasta. Toss.
- Season with salt and pepper.Garnish with chopped parsley.