No matter if you’re at a fine seafood restaurant or simply want to enjoy this ocean delicacy at home, eating lobster can seem intimidating. With some knowledge and tips though, it doesn’t have to be.
Start by stocking up on essential supplies. Have extra napkins and lobster bibs handy as well as wet wipes for any last-minute messes.
Start with the Claws
Lobster claws are the delectable meat that makes lobster such a beloved seafood delicacy. Although you can cook the entire lobster, some people prefer eating just its claws because they offer such superior flavor than tail meat alone.
The initial step in prepping a lobster is to crack its shell. Depending on its size, you can use either a lobster cracker or your hands; however, according to Kingston, chef’s knives are best for this job since their shape allows for clean breaks without damaging the lobster too much.
Once the lobster shell has been cracked open, you must extract its claws and knuckles from its body. Kingston suggests using either a chef’s knife or nutcracker to break apart each claw’s thickest part away from its body. After that is done, make sure to scrape away any “thumbs,” which are pieces of meat connecting each claw to its knuckle.
Next, carefully pull the tail away from its carapace (belly). This should come apart easily; if not, twist it as if you were trying to tear a book apart.
Knuckles and legs are also great sources of delicious meat, so use a nutcracker or your fingers to break them open. Be careful not to grind bits of shell into the inside meat as this could create an unpleasant flavor.
Finally, break the legs into pieces and push them out with a skewer. This leg meat makes an excellent addition to soups, stocks and flavoured butters as it’s tender, firm and delicious.
Remove the Tail
When using lobster in a salad or pasta dish, it’s best to remove its tail before cutting it up. This is an efficient and quick way to give your lobster a brighter appearance.
Begin by placing the lobster tail shell side up on a cutting board and aligning the bottom blade of your kitchen shears just beneath it. Doing this will enable you to slice down the center of the tail without hitting any of its fans or under-shell.
With one hand holding the shell upright, use your other to gently cut down its back until it reaches the base. Doing this will allow you to separate the meat from both shell halves and you’ll be able to see it more clearly.
Be careful as you cut away the tail meat, since you don’t want it to break off of its shell. Once you’ve made a cut in the tail, pull it out gently but make sure not to tear away any of its meat at this stage.
Once you’ve separated the tail meat from its shell halves, you can lift it onto a plate. Squeezing both shell halves together beneath the meat helps hold it firmly in place and prevents it from falling off during cooking!
This method works best with fresh lobsters, and you should rinse their tails thoroughly after taking them out of their shells. Doing this helps eliminate any unpleasant odor and gives you a better indication of your lobster’s condition.
Remove the Digestive Tract
Similar to deveining shrimp to remove their shell, you should devein a lobster in order to access its digestive tract. While this doesn’t hurt the lobster, it does require special tools for success.
To begin removing the digestive tract of a lobster, first cut away its tail. Use a paring knife to slice lengthwise through its center. Next, press apart both halves of the tail to separate their meat.
At the tail end of a lobster, you will likely spot a vein – black in color – running along its digestive tract. Although not harmful, this vein may taste peculiar if eaten.
To make this process a little simpler, you can use a skewer to poke between the shell segments. Then, hold onto the vein by holding it between two points on the skewer.
Once the vein is gone, you can thoroughly clean your lobster tail by rinsing it in water and allowing it to air-dry. Be sure to sanitize both the sink area as well as all equipment used in cleaning the lobster.
Cut the Lobster in Half
Lobster tails are a staple of many seafood recipes, from grill to fried. They can be stuffed with other ingredients or served alone. When cooking lobsters, it’s essential to cut them in half evenly so they cook evenly and reach an ideal temperature.
When grilling lobster, there’s one method that works best: cutting it in half lengthwise. This ensures even heat distribution throughout the tail, for perfectly cooked lobster every time.
When serving lobster for a casual lunch or dinner, as well as special occasions, it’s essential to cut it correctly so that it cooks evenly and reaches the appropriate temperature. Start by cutting the lobster in half lengthwise at where its tail meets its body, using a sharp knife.
Once you’ve cut the lobster in half, remove any yellow-green tomalley from inside and discard it.
When you are ready to grill your lobster, lightly oil a grill rack or pan and brush the flesh side with butter or your favorite marinade. Cook over medium heat for just a few minutes, baste, then finish grilling shell side down.
Insert a skewer into the lobster tail at this stage to prevent it from curling while cooking. Make sure to check the internal temperature of the lobster tail after cooking so that it reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are serving this recipe to a large group, serving the lobster on top of either mashed potatoes or rice is ideal. Alternatively, you could prepare this dish in a paella pan and incorporate lobster as the main course alongside other ingredients.