By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2014. All rights reserved
Steamed Lobster Tails served in the cockpit of Distant Shores II
One of the pleasures of cruising in the Bahamas is the abundance of fresh fish and lobster found on the vibrant reefs throughout the islands. We love to snorkel and on our first cruise here in 1989 a friend showed Paul how to use a hand spear and catch lobster. Now it’s something he looks forward to whenever we return to the Bahamas during lobster season which is August 1 to March 31st.
Paul with his Catch of the Day
The lobster in the Bahamas is not like the cold water lobster with claws that you may be familiar with. Here you find Spiny Lobster, also called crawfish by the Bahamians, and in some places called Rock Lobster. These lobsters have very large tails and long barbed whips instead of claws.
Spiny lobster have long whips instead of claws
The best time to hunt for spiny lobster is in the early morning and late evening or on a cloudy day since they hide from the sunshine and wander around at night to forage for food. You'll find them tucked under coral heads or ledges or any safe hole with their whips facing outwards for protection in the daytime.
Regulations for Hunting Lobster in the Bahamas
You need a fishing license to hunt spiny lobster in the Bahamas which is included in your cruising permit when you arrive on your own boat or you can purchase one separately, usually from customs, if you're flying in. In the Bahamas:
- you can only hunt lobster by free diving (breath holding using a snorkel only, no scuba tanks) and you can only use a Hawaiian Sling, a type of hand spear, to catch them, not a spear gun. (In most places we've visited in the Caribbean only the locals are permitted to hunt lobster.)
- Lobsters should measure 3 3/8 inches across the carapace (main part of body) or have a 6 inch tail length. Paul marked these lengths on the end of his spear with a permanent marker so he could measure the lobster before choosing one for dinner.
- Egg bearing females are protected.
- Only 6 lobsters are permitted by one person at any one time.
- The annual season is August 1 to March 31st, closed April 1 to July 31.
Steamed Lobster Tails
1 lobster tail per person (depending on size of lobster)
1 lime or lemon cut into sections
1to 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Using kitchen shears cut the tails in half longways making sure the vein down the back is cleared out.
Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of a large pot and bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice to the water. The juice prevents a strong smell of seafood in the boat. (I have also used clean sea water in place of fresh water plus sea salt. You be the judge.)
You can place a steamer insert inside the pot so that the lobster tails stay above the water level but I usually just place the half tails, shell side down, right into the boiling water.
Cover and steam for 8 minutes or until meat is no longer transparent and shells are reddish in colour.
Meanwhile, crush garlic cloves and add to 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive oil or melted butter.
When tails are cooked remove with tongs and brush with a little of the garlic oil/ butter and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Save the rest of the garlic oil/butter for dipping into while eating.
Plate and garnish with slices of lemon or lime. Serve with rice and salad or cole slaw.
Steam until the meat is just opaque. Smaller lobsters are more tender.
There are many ways to prepare lobster tails and use the meat. Please tell us how you like it best in the comments below!
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You might also enjoy these other sailing recipes.
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