After 40 years of dreaming about them, this weekend we finally got to eat this childhood treat.
There used to be a restaurant called the Clam Box in Westport, Connecticut that served great seafood. On Friday nights, our parents used to take my brother and me for dinner and the four of us would pig out on lobster tails served with French fries and coleslaw, a steal at $4.95! Although the menu at the restaurant was huge, we never even looked at it, except perhaps once in awhile waiting for drinks. I am sure the rest of the food was as good as our baby lobster tails, and my mother would often say we should try something else but the three of us held steadfast and at the end she relented knowing that none of us would share if her entree was not as good. Lobster in those days was plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Of course, I'm talking about the pre fast food days of the early 60's and long before Red Lobster came along.
I looked for a recipe for fried tails in all my cookbooks and over the Net and came empty handed. I remember well the taste of those lobster tails, coated in bread crumbs and dipped in butter, the meat inside so soft it melted in your mouth. Nothing I saw in my search resembled the ones served at the Clam Box; so with my brother's help and a little imagination I ventured out on my own.
The first thing to determine was the type of oil to use. When you fry something, you need an oil that can withstand a high temperature, in this case 350 degrees. Not all oils are created equal and some have a higher smoke point than others. The smoke point marks the beginning of both flavor and nutritional degradation; therefore, it is a key consideration when selecting a fat for frying, with the smoke point of the specific oil dictating its maximum usable temperature and therefore its possible applications. For instance, since deep frying is a very high temperature process, it requires a fat with a high smoke point. Refined peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees, one of the reasons it is used frequently when frying chicken. It is my oil of choice also for frying oysters.
The rest was easy...bread crumbs that needed some flavoring, and a frying vessel large enough to fry the tails without crowding. As I do not own a fryer and few are made large enough to hold 3 or 4 tails, I opted for my wok which I use to fry chicken and oysters when I have a large crowd.
If you can find fresh Maine lobster tails get them; otherwise flash frozen ones will do. We got ours at Whole Foods and although they were not from Maine they were very good (and quite pricey). I do not recommend the ones at Cotsco. Although I have not tried them, they have a grayish color that does not give me a lot of confidence. Regardless of which type of lobster you use, plan on two tails apiece.
The result was so incredible that they grabbed the plates from me before I could take a photo. The picture above is not mine but it is as close as I could find to resembling this recipe. I will leave you instead with a photo of the table. All I can say is the dream was fulfilled and the lobster tails did not disappoint. That is a lot to say after 40 years!
8 lobster tails
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Add enough peanut oil to the wok to bring it to 3/4 full. Bring the oil to 350 degrees. You can check with a candy thermometer. I can usually tell by placing the palm of my hand a few inches over the oil. If it's hot enough to cause discomfort after 5 seconds it's ready!
With a pair of poultry scissors cut the cartilage in the tails to expose the meat. Beat the egg yolks and add a little water. Season the bread crumbs with the Old Bay Seasoning and place in a baggie.
Dip the tails in the egg, lift and let the excess slide back into the dish. Place in the breadcrumbs and shake the bag until well coated. Place on a plate until all the tails are coated. Place them in the freezer for 5 minutes before frying.
When the oil is hot enough, slide the tails into the oil making sure there's enough room for them to fry without crowding. For the size of my wok it meant frying four at a time. Fry until golden, about 3 - 4 minutes.
Remove to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and place in the oven at 250 to keep warm until the rest of the tails are done.
Serve immediately with melted butter and lemon quarters.
Coleslaw is a must! I served mine with corn on the cob but French fries was what was originally served..
Photos: 1. Google, 2. Lindaraxa