The Gulf Coast of Florida’s Panhandle is a favorite beach escape, routinely voted among the prettiest in the world. And, while being known for its rolling dunes and sugar white sand, most may not know it’s also a great dive destination.
For the underwater hunter, Northwest Florida is a gold mine, with miles of open water, and where the fish are plentiful. But, come late summer, the area becomes flooded with those trying to get their share of the Florida spiny lobster.
Though the regular 8-month lobster season is from August 6th through March 31st, the 2-day mini season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. beginning at 12:01 am on Wednesday, and ending at 12:00 midnight on Thursday.
If wanting to dive into the lobster on your plate instead of the salty Gulf, follow your nose to the most succulent crustaceans at Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer in Destin, where you can get your warm water tail steamed or boiled with choices of spices, and served with Cajun or drawn butter.
Salt air and sandy feet lead to seafood shacks serving the freshest available, and in Seaside, Florida it can be found at The Shrimp Shack. Heavenly Dawson, former co-owner of the eatery with her husband Bill, said,”Shrimp Shack offers the best warm water lobster rolls available in the Panhandle. They are just steamed and served with lemon wedges and drawn butter.” The moist chunks of perfectly prepared lobster cuddle together nicely in the fresh baked bun.
The Florida spiny lobster has no big, crushing claws, and with all of its meat is in the tail, cooks up nicely on the grill. Foodies love to debate on whether to cook the lobster shell up or down. Longtime Miramar Beach local and my dad, Tom Guttery, make a b-line to Destin Ice & Seafood for the freshest catch, prefers the grill method, and said, “I like to start them out shell down, it protects the meat. Baste them in olive oil and unsalted butter, let them cook 6 minutes up, then flip them over and cook them 2 minutes down. The most important thing is not to over cook the tails!”
Sweet Cream Butter Broiled Spiny Lobster Tails
4 (6- to 9-ounce) spiny lobster tails, split open in the shell
¼ stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven broiler on medium high.
- Place all 4 of the lobsters on a cookie sheet and make sure they are opened up down the middle. Evenly spread the softened butter over each of the lobster tails’ meat. Lightly season each lobster tail with salt and pepper.
- Place lobsters in the oven on the middle rack under the broiler. Let the lobster cook under the broiler for about 7 minutes or until just barely cooked throughout.
- Remove lobsters from oven and let cool slightly. Serve lobster tails warm with fresh lemon or lime. Coconut rice and steamed broccoli are also nice sides.
For the 2-day mini sport Florida spiny lobster season, bag limits and information check out http://www.myfwc.com.
This article was first seen in Emerald Coast Magazine