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Bob Hart’s recipe for Aussie lobsters

AUSSIE LOBSTERS: A TIME TO INDULGE?

Lobster is one of those dishes which, most of the year, is just too pricey for us to develop a taste. Or even any real skill in cooking.

Even raw, frozen tails – which are dead set delicious, of course – come in at around $150 a kg. When you can find them, that is.

And if you are keen to tangle with some of the more memorable examples of these beasts – I’m recalling a live, 1.7kg beauty from Apollo Bay I smoke-roasted over pecan in the Pit Barrel last year – you may need, first, to run it by your banker.

But suddenly, the game is changing: the disasterous coronavirus means that, for now, the wheels have fallen off our nation’s booming lobster industry which, in more fruitful years, feeds many more of our delicious crayfish (or southern rock lobsters, if you prefer) to eager Chinese consumers, than to us.

The lobster fishermen who go about their business in our southern waters can do rather well. And they are worth every dollar they earn, incidentally: it’s a tough game.

But with the dreaded virus, it has suddenly become a lot tougher: already prices are closer to $50 than $150. And things may get even tougher…

But without wanting to celebrate anyone’s misfortune, those delectable crays simply have to be eaten, do they not? So if any tails – say, a couple of smallish ones around the 250-300g mark – come your way at the right price, as I suspect they will, here is something you may like to do with them:

First, of course, thaw them thoroughly, and then use a serious knife to split them, lengthways. Taking all the necessary care, as you will find those shells offer rather more resistance than you might expect.

Now, fire up a gas or charcoal grill, ensuring it is clean, oiled and at around the 200C mark.

Brush the cut sides of the four pieces of tail with melted butter and position them, cut sides down, on the grill at 45 degrees to the grill bars. Drop the lid and leave them, for two to four minutes depending on size, before lifting the lid, moving them through 90 degrees and grilling them for another 2-3 minutes, again depending on size. Drop the lid. And then, lift the lid and flip them, leaving them to cook for another few minutes, shell sides down.

After this time, they should be ready. But if you doubt this because of their size, by all means give them a tick longer.  Be careful not to overcook them, however, as they can become tough.

Now, lift the cooked tails off the grill and place them, cuts sides up, on a platter. Lift the pieces of meat out of the shells, position each on a plate (one as an appetizer, two as a main course), and serve with a sauce of melted butter to which you have added chopped chives and, ideally, a splash of Pastis or Pernod.

And yes, it will be delicious. But think long and hard, I suggest, before developing a taste for it…

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