Monday, June 19, 2017

Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail

     A Classic American Seafood Restaurant Specialty! 
     Many old fashioned seafood restaurants have their own docks where fishing boats unload fresh caught fish.  Good fresh seafood needs no sauces or extensive preparation.  Plain raw, broiled or fried seafood are usually the only options at a traditional fresh seafood restaurant.  Owners of these kinds of seafood restaurants take great pride in serving the very best quality seafood with minimal preparation.
     Most east coast seafood restaurants offer a Crab Stuffing to go with lobster, shrimp, pompano or flounder.  Just like in Baltimore, Maryland, the best Crab Stuffing is made with about 95% crab meat.  The other 5% of the ingredients are aromatic vegetables, eggs and bread crumbs.
     Second rate seafood restaurants offer a Crab Stuffing with less than 50% crab meat content or they sell crab flavored surimi as real crab.  One can tell if a restaurant is using pre-made frozen crab cake products by judging the percentage of crab meat too.  Usually these kinds of seafood restaurants are located far away from the coastline or they are corporate chain restaurants.  A traditional seafood restaurant located in a highly competitive coastal area would lose plenty of customers by serving low quality crab meat products, unless the restaurant targets a tourist clientele that does not know any better.
     When I made the Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail photo example for today's recipe, the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster had just occurred.  All seafood from Gulf Of Mexico waters and the Gulf Stream was heavily contaminated.  In fact, the residual contamination will pose a health threat for the next 50 years, so many people that are in the know have stopped eating Gulf seafood altogether.  This includes Spiny Lobster and Blue Crab from the Gulf Stream waters.    
     Fortunately there are alternative resources for Crab and Lobster that come from uncontaminated ocean waters.  Today's recipe makes use of Alaskan King Crab and Australian Spiny Lobster Tail.  If you feel confident about the local Florida Spiny Lobster and Chesapeake Blue Crab being safe to eat, then by all means use these traditional items to make today's Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail recipe.
     Spiny Lobster Tails are the best for stuffing.  The size of a Spiny Lobster seems to have no effect on the quality of the tail meat.  Spiny Lobster is harvested worldwide and the price can vary by a wide margin at seafood markets.    
     Maine Lobster is the only true lobster species, because Spiny Lobster are more closely related to shrimp.  Maine Lobster has very large claws and Spiny Lobster has no claws.  Maine Lobster meat has a richer flavor than Spiny Lobster too.  Small Maine Lobster Tails are good for stuffing, but the problem is that a large lobster tail is needed to make a traditional Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail.  When a Maine Lobster grows to over 2 1/2 pounds, the tail meat can become tough and it does not always fill the tail shell.  Large Spiny Lobster Tails are the better choice for making Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail, because the tail is full of tender meat, no matter how big a Spiny Lobster grows.
     Rock Lobster Tails and African Lobster Tails are poor choices for stuffing.  African Lobster Tails are usually marketed by foreign fishing companies that show no respect for local African fishermen and lobster trappers.  Rock Lobster Tails are usually marketed as a frozen product and there is a high percentage of Rock Lobster Tails that show signs of molting or decomposition.
     Fresh live Chesapeake Blue Crab is the best choice for making a Crab Stuffing.  Poaching the Blue Crabs and shelling the meat is labor intensive, but the flavor is best.  The next best choice is to purchased Canned Fresh Lump Blue Crab Meat.  For a Crab Stuffing, the chunkier the meat, the better, so Super Lump or Lump Blue Crab Meat is the best choice.
     As an alternative, Alaskan King Crab Legs are a good choice.  King Crab is pricier than Snow Crab, so greater care it taken when processing this seafood product.  The Alaskan Crab Fishery is superbly managed and top quality Alaskan King Crab has a "sweet" flavor that is not briny at all.  Alaskan King Crab is fairly easy to shell and the meat can be torn into large chunks, so this alternative crab is good for making a traditional Crab Stuffing.
     There is something about Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail that is very appealing for a special occasion or holiday.  In fact, Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail is one of the best selling items of all time for New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day.  Today's recipe is expensive to make at home and it is even more expensive to purchase at a good restaurant.  For a special treat or a special event, a traditional American coastal seafood restaurant style Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail is a nice choice!

     Crab Stuffing:
     This recipe yields about 6 ounces.  (Enough for 1 large 8 ounce lobster tail.)
     A good crab stuffing contains about 90% to 95% Crab Meat.  Blue Crab or King Crab are best for a crab stuffing.  The chunkier the crab meat, the better the stuffing will be.  
     Step 1:  Shell about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of Alaskan king crab meat.  (About 5 ounces.)
     *Be sure that there is absolutely no shell or cartilage in the crab meat.  Try to leave the large pieces of crab meat intact instead of breaking them up.
     Place the crab meat in a mixing bowl.
     Chill the crab meat till it is needed.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely minced Hickory Smoked Bacon.
     Gently sauté till the vegetables are tender.  (The smoked bacon should not be cooked crisp.)
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 3:  Add the sautéed aromatic vegetables and bacon to the crab meat in the mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 small pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.  (optional)
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Add 2 tablespoons of plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of whisked raw egg.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
     Gently fold and mix the ingredients together, till the binding ingredients are evenly distributed.  (Try not to break up the crab meat chunks.)
     Step 5:  Place the crab stuffing in a container.
     Chill till the mixture becomes stiff enough to hold its own shape when squeezed.  (About 1 hour.)

     Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Select an 8 ounce spiny lobster tail.
     Use a chef knife or kitchen shears to split the lobster tail open by cutting through the top half of the shell lengthwise.  Partially cut through the raw lobster meat at the same time, so it will be butterflied, when it is popped out of the shell.  (Do not cut through the bottom of the lobster shell!)
     Remove the mud vein.
     Step 2:  Spread the lobster tail shell open and gently pull the lobster meat upward,  without detaching the meat from the fan of the tail.
     Close the shell under the meat.
     Drape the butterflied tail meat over the top of the empty shell.
     Step 3:  Place the fabricated lobster tail on a small roasting pan or pie tin.
     Spread out the lobster tail fan, so it is fully opened.
     Step 4:  Mound a generous amount of the crab stuffing on the lobster meat.  (About 5 to 6 ounces.)
     Gently press and shape the stuffing onto the lobster tail meat.
     *Do not firmly pack the crab stuffing or it will become too dense.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan.
     Pour 2 tablespoons of dry white wine over the stuffing and lobster.
     Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of lemon juice over the stuffing and lobster.
     Drizzle 2 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter over the stuffing and lobster.
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of plain fine French bread crumbs over the lobster stuffing.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of Spanish Paprika over the stuffing.
     Step 6:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Stuffed Lobster is halfway done.  (About 5 minutes.)
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a spoon to baste the lobster with the pan juices.
     Step 7:  Place the pan back in the oven.
     Bake till golden highlights appear on the stuffing and the lobster meat is fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 165ºF.)
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Carefully use a wide spatula to set the Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail on the front half of a plate.
     Spoon some of the butter and pan juices from the roasting pan over the stuffed lobster.
     Serve with a vegetable and potato of your choice.  (The stuffed lobster in the photos was served with buttered thyme carrots and boiled bliss potatoes.)
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig and a decorative "winged" lemon half.

     The aroma and flavor of Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail will certainly impress guests!  The small amount of hickory smoked bacon adds a subtle old fashioned east coast fish house flavor to the stuffing.  This is a great entrée for a special occasion!  

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