Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heat and Lobsters - a lesson

It is hot today. Unseasonably hot.

According to, today the Northeast will break all kinds of heat related records.

I just spent 2 1/2 hours in my front garden weeding, digging, and planting my summer flowers. Sometime in July I will be blessed with hundreds of gladiolas, dahlias, sunflowers and zinnias. A riot of color should grace the walkways. Around these parts this type of flowers can be planted anytime from April thru June. Note to self: don't wait until the hottest day of the year. Lesson learned.

Whole Lobsters - a lesson (plan on one 1 1/4 pound lobster per person)

Whole Maine Lobsters are a bargain at many seafood stores right now. The weather is great for the lobster men and spring is a lovely time to treat yourself to this ocean delicacy. The problem most people have with whole lobsters is opening them.

And let's just get this out of the way right now, YES, you have to cook them while they are alive. You can anesthetize them by rubbing their heads right behind their eyes - this kind of puts them to sleep - but in the end, you do have to put them head first into a big pot of boiling salted water. Sorry - there's no way around it.

So let's just say you did the deed and are now ready to eat your prize.

Boil your lobster for 12 minutes per pound in highly salted water. Place on cutting board or a platter.

Remove the front claws first. It's okay to remove the rubber bands now. Did you know that the bands are placed on the lobster's claws because they will fight and eat each other in the tanks? Yup. It is for their protection, not ours. You may want to have a bowl handy to catch the juices that will run out of the shell.  This is especially important if you are going to make lobster bisque or a seafood broth. 

Now remove the tail by twisting and pulling. It won't be hard to do.

Using a nut cracker open the claws and remove the meat. Many people love the claw meat the most. Don't forget to crack open the knuckles (joints) and remove the meat. There is a lot of lovely lobster in there. The skinny legs can be sucked (like a straw) or added to your broth water.

You will need some long, thin seafood forks to remove some of the meat, especially in the legs. You don't want to miss any!

Now remove the tail meat. Using the palm of your hand, break the back of the tail, turn the tail over and the meat will pull right out. Whose arm is that? It looks way to fat and old to be mine. 

See. You can leave it whole or cut it into bite size pieces.

While I was cleaning the lobster I melted a stick of unsalted butter, letting it foam, then brown. I added all the lobster meat to the butter, served it with a light salad and boiled potatoes that are meant for dipping into the butter. If corn is in season a cob of steamed, fresh corn would be awesome. 

You can take all those shells and simmer them down into fish stock. If frozen, it will keep up to 6 months and you can use it for lobster bisque, clam chowder or fish stew. 

Oh, and that green stuff in the lobster shell? That is the lobster's liver, it is called the tamale and many people (myself included) find it delicious - it is considered a delicacy. If you were lucky enough to get a female lobster you will find red eggs around the tail area. Gently scrape the roe off and add it to the simmering shells. The roe will add wonderful flavor and color to your fish broth. 

A Cook's Notes: I confess, my family is spoiled rotten. I open the lobsters for them, place all the meat into individual ramekins with the browned butter and serve. I do recommend that you NEVER do this for your family as it will render them incapable of ever doing it for themselves. 

Bon Appetite! 


  1. Nope. Can't do it. I'll leave it to the brave ones like you!

  2. What? Okay - have the fishmonger steam the lobster for you. Then bring it home and clean it up yourself. Geez...

  3. YUM - I think the best part is getting your hands dirty. I can't keep my self from eating half of it as I'm cleaning it.

  4. I can remember the one time my parents bought lobsters to fix at home. We put them on the floor for the cat to play with while the water was heating! It was quite entertaining for us, though torturous for the parties involved.

  5. Ahh! Yeah, I am freaked out by the live lobsters going into the pot thing- but I bet my husband could do it!

    Sound delicious... I wonder where I can get some fresh Maine Lobster around here... I'm having a dinner party on Friday- this would be PERFECTO!

  6. Marci - I think it is respecting and honoring the lobster by lovingly removing all the meat from the shell. And yes, I have been known to have a bite or two while cleaning - but that is a good cook, you have to taste the food!

    Whitney - Your family sounds like my kind of family. I do admit to teasing / annoying the dog with a feisty lobster....

    Jen - can I come to your dinner party? I'll do the deed.

  7. I don't DO lobster...bad experience...long story...but I did want to stop by and tell you how fabulous I think your blog is! And to give you a standing ovation for your incredible talent for the gourmet!! You are my gold standard! Love, Janine XO

  8. I can't do it. I can't kill spiders, how can I kill a big lobster? No, I have to buy just the tail. I wish I had a mom like you who would do the prepping and just put it in the bowl with some drawn butter. It looks wonderful, and I know fresh is best.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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