Lobster is delicious and nutritious, but it can be extremely pricey. You can avoid some of the cost by dining in and cooking the lobster yourself, but live lobster is also very expensive and presents most novice cooks with some very big obstacles. You can avoid a lot of the price and the hassle and still dine on delicious lobster by buying your lobster meat frozen, but you’ll need to know the best ways to get from rock-hard seafood to thawed, tender and ready to cook lobster without the risk of bacterial growth or excessive shrinkage or drying of the meat.
The Old Fashioned Way
The most tried and true method for defrosting meat of any kind is by slow refrigeration. Depending on the amount of lobster meat you are trying to defrost, you need to vary the amount of time you refrigerate the meat. If you’re defrosting over a pound, you should let it sit in the fridge overnight. If it’s under a pound, you could stash it in the refrigerator before you leave for work in the morning, and it will most likely be thawed by dinner time. However, it’s very common for plans to go by the wayside, and you may forget about the need to defrost until the dinner party is only a few hours away.
Another great tool for defrosting is the sink. Running water over the frozen lobster meat will certainly speed up thawing. Simply seal the lobster in a plastic bag, place it in colander, under the tap, and start the faucet running. Keep in mind, though, that seafood is extremely prone to bacterial growth, and neither warm nor hot water should be used. Instead, run a continuous stream of cold water over the frozen meat.
You should keep an eye on it, shifting or rotating the meat so that you get an even distribution of water over the frozen surface area. This method takes time and patience, but it’s a wonderful way to preserve the freshness of the lobster while helping to prevent sudden shrinkage due to heat. However, if you are environmentally conscious and trying to conserve water, this may not be the method for you, as the water flow should be continuous.
A fast, easy way to thaw frozen lobster meat is by making use of your microwave oven. Most modern microwaves have a defrost setting and many even have programmable features so that you can set the type and weight of meat you are attempting to thaw. If you don’t have a defrost setting, simply set the microwave to low heat, place the lobster on a plate inside and hit start. Make sure to rotate the meat every thirty seconds to every minute to ensure even heating and check frequently to prevent premature cooking.
If you use this method, be sure to cook the meat immediately after thawing since these warm conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria.
Finally, if you are extremely pressed for time, it is possible to flash thaw seafood. By placing it directly into a shallow pan, adding a little water and oil or butter, topping it with a lid and cranking up the heat, you can get your lobster to a passable tenderness so that you may begin cooking. The fast addition of heat may cause shrinkage of the lobster meat, but if you’re in dire straights, this method can and does work.
References and Resources"The Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer, et al.; 1997
Food Network: A Guide for Buying and Cooking Lobster
Alaska Division of Environmental Health: Food Safety and Sanitation Program