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Properly cooked lobster can be a delicious dish to serve to friends and family on special occasions. There are many ways to prepare lobster, several of which include a dipping sauce to accent the flavor of the shellfish. Choosing the best lobster dipping sauce for a particular meal depends largely on how the lobster was cooked and which flavors the cook prefers to use. Degree of difficulty in preparing the sauce also may factor into the choice, depending on the cook's skill level and time constraints. Some hosts may choose the best sauce simply by not choosing, opting instead to serve the lobster with multiple dipping sauces, so each guest can choose the one that suits his own palette.
Various methods for cooking lobster range from boiling or steaming it to dipping it in batter and deep-frying it. Each method tends to lend itself to a particular style of sauce. For example, drawn butter is a traditional lobster dipping sauce and one popularly used with various types of shellfish. It most frequently is paired with steamed or boiled shellfish. A simple sauce made by melting butter and skimming off the milk solids, it can add a light touch to a delicate dish and can stand on its own or have herbs and seasonings added for an extra flavor boost.
Particularly in some parts of the United States, batter-dipped, deep-fried lobster is a popular choice, and it tends to be paired with sauces that are popular with other deep-fried foods. Dips such as honey mustard and tartar sauce can be good accompaniments for this type of dish. Their creamy base has enough texture to stand up to the heavier preparation of the deep-fried food without overpowering the flavor of the shellfish.
Lobster cocktail is a recipe similar to shrimp cocktail and generally is served as an appetizer before a meal. The classic version of this dish calls for cooked, chilled lobster to be served along with a cocktail sauce made from a simple mixture of horseradish and ketchup. More adventurous cooks can make a spicier version of the cocktail sauce or experiment with serving this appetizer with a different lobster dipping sauce.
Grilling a lobster provides a good method of imparting extra flavor to the dish during the cooking process. Before grilling, the shellfish can be seasoned with herbs and spices, and the finished product can be served with an appropriate lobster dipping sauce. Some cooks may wish to offer a selection of two or three sauces to accompany grilled lobster. Drawn butter again is a good basic sauce for such a preparation, and it may be paired with a more flavorful sauce — perhaps one that picks up a flavor found elsewhere in the meal — as a contrast.
More recent culinary trends have led to the greater popularity of Asian-inspired dipping sauces for use with lobster and other shellfish. These sauces use ingredients such as soy sauce and ginger to give extra flavor to the meat of the lobster. Asian-style sauces can be served along with tempura or grilled lobster as an interesting alternative to a more traditional lobster dipping sauce.