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Lobster 101 – How To Cook And Prepare

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The lobster is a crustacean with an extended body that lives in the ocean’s depths. Lobsters can readily be caught in sunken, cage-like traps because they crawl around at night amid the rocks on the seabed. The North American lobster, which is primarily found in the Atlantic, has a somewhat different form and color than the European lobster.

The lobster is still numerous in North America, but it has all but vanished from European beaches and is marketed at astronomical costs in Europe. It was formerly so plentiful in North America that it was despised, but as its popularity grew, it became the subject of an extremely aggressive fishery—so aggressive that many countries were forced to control their lobster fisheries to protect the species.

Anatomy of a Lobster

The lobster has five pairs of claws, the front pair being significantly more developed and equipped with powerful pincers than the others. The larger of these two pincers—either the right or left—is used to crush food, while the smaller is utilized to cut it into small bits. The lobster’s abdomen (or tail) is well-developed, with seven portions, the last of which is a strong fan-shaped appendage.

The lobster sheds its shell as it grows, doing it 12 times over the course of five years. A mature lobster weighs about a pound and measures about a foot in length.

The flesh within the lobster’s abdomen (or tail) and claws (including small ones), as well as the coral (lobster eggs) and the greenish liver inside the thorax, are all edible (or head).

The white and pinkish meat of the lobster is lean, solid, delicate, and delectable, accounting for just about 30% of its total weight.

The lobster’s white and pinkish meat is lean, firm, delicate, and tasty, accounting for just around 30% of its total weight.

Male and Female Lobsters

The appearance of small fins positioned at the point where the thorax meets the abdomen distinguishes the female lobster from the male: the female’s fins, which are used to hold eggs, are thin and webbed, whilst the male’s are lengthy, stiff, and spiky. Female lobster flesh is frequently thought to be superior, especially during the egg-laying season.

As a result, females’ eggs are more valuable than males’. Overconsumption of female lobsters was formerly a threat to the species, but because many of the lobsters today consumed are raised on massive lobster farms, it is no longer an issue.

Nutritional Information: Lobster

per 100 g
19 g
1 g
95 mg

Potassium, zinc, and niacin are all abundant in lobster. Seasonally and from one section of the body to another, the flesh has a different composition. The tail has a higher nutritional content than the claws.

How to Buy Lobster

Lobster can be purchased alive, cooked, frozen, or tinned. Frozen lobster usually only comes with the tail, whereas canned lobster can come with lobster meat chunks or a spreadable paste. You should scrutinize the lobster before purchasing it, whether it is live or cooked.

How to Buy Live Lobster

When purchasing a live lobster, it is critical to be certain that the lobster is still alive. Even after cooking, dead lobster decomposes quickly and is unsafe to eat. If you buy lobster from a tank, you may be able to choose which lobster or lobsters you want, and it’s always a good idea to choose the ones that appear to be the most active.

Even if you are unable to pick the lobster from the aquarium, you can generally observe the salesperson doing it. If the lobster appears to be still and uninterested, you should ask for another.

If you can’t see the lobster being taken out of the tank, you can test whether it’s alive by grasping it around the sides in the center of its thorax, behind where the lobster’s huge claws meet its body, with one hand.

A live lobster should react by tucking its tail under its body abruptly. The enormous pincers of a lobster are almost always restrained by an elastic band or a wooden peg, making lobster raising extremely safe. Lift the lobster with extreme caution if the pincers are not restrained.

Lobster by the Pound

Lobster is offered and priced by the pound. Lobsters can be bagged and weighed, or they can be divided into weight classes, such as 1-pound lobsters, 1 1/4-pound lobsters, 1 1/2-pound lobsters, and so on. A single person can usually get enough nourishment from a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound lobster.

Smaller lobsters, according to some connoisseurs, have more soft and sweeter meat than larger lobsters. There isn’t much evidence to back this up. If you’re thinking of getting a larger lobster, make sure you have a large enough container to cook it in.

How to Buy Cooked Lobster

Cooked lobster is frequently sold whole, though cooked lobster tail may also be available. The following features should be present in cooked lobster:

  • Bright red shell
  • Shiny black eyes
  • Firm flesh
  • Pleasant odor

How to Store Lobster

Whether you’re storing lobster live before cooking it, preserving it after cooking it, or freezing it, properly storing lobster is critical.

How to Store Live Lobster

If you’ve purchased live lobster, it’s critical to store it in a way that keeps it alive until you’re ready to prepare it.

Always buy lobster on the day you plan to prepare it to cut down on the amount of time you’ll have to store it. When preserving live lobsters, there are two important rules to remember:

  • Allow no more than a few minutes for the lobster or lobsters to get to room temperature.
  • Ascertain that the lobsters do not run out of oxygen.

Refrigerating lobsters in a robust paper bag is the easiest approach to meet both of these requirements. The top of the paper bag should be open. Multiple lobsters can be stored in a single bag.

How Not to Store Live Lobsters

The following methods should not be used to keep live lobster since they may cause the lobster to die:

  • Do not store lobster in saltwater: Do not keep lobsters in a saltwater pot (or other receptacle or tank). Lobsters are kept in filtered aquariums with aerated water in fish stores. Keeping them in unfiltered water, on the other hand, risks asphyxiation.
  • Do not store lobster in plastic bags: Plastic bags, unlike paper bags, do not breathe. Putting lobsters in a plastic bag can cause asphyxiation, just like storing them in unfiltered water.

How to Store Cooked Lobster

In the refrigerator, cooked lobster will last one or two days. You can either keep the lobster in its shell or detach it before storing it.

How to Freeze Lobster

Lobster should be boiled and strained before freezing. It can be frozen whole, but removing the flesh from the shell is preferable. Lobster can be frozen in a freezer bag or in containers. You should not freeze lobster for more than a month, regardless of how you do it.

How to Freeze Lobsters in Containers

  1. Chill the flesh in the refrigerator.
  2. Place the lobster in freezer-safe containers.
  3. Cover the lobster with brine (1 tablespoon salt per cup of water).
  4. Seal the containers and put them in the freezer.

How to Freeze Lobster in a Freezer Bag

  1. Chill the lobster and put it in the bag.
  2. Squeeze out the air.
  3. Seal the bag.
  4. Put the bag (and lobster) in the freezer.

How to Split a Lobster

If you want to grill a lobster instead of boiling or steaming it, you’ll need to split the lobster in half first. To cut a lobster in half, do the following:

  1. By holding the live lobster over its thorax, place it on a cutting board. Cut through the head where the shell protecting the head meets the shell covering the thorax with the point of a knife. Push the knife down until the point of the knife makes contact with the board, killing the lobster.
  2. Turn the lobster over and place the knife on the cutting board where the back (thorax) and tail (abdomen) of the lobster meet.
  3. Cut the lobster in half lengthwise after splitting it in half.
  4. Identify the sand sac, liver, coral, and intestine on both sides of the lobster.
  5. Using your fingers or a spoon, remove the coral and liver. These lobster bits can be used to make a sauce if desired.
  6. Remove the sand sac with your fingers by plucking it free.
  7. The intestine should be removed. It’s usually easier to use the point of a knife to raise the intestine up and then remove it with your fingers.

How to Eat Lobster

You’ll need a nutcracker to get to the meat inside a cooked entire lobster (whether it’s been boiled or steamed). A lobster fork (a small fork) will come in handy as well. Once you’ve got those, the best method to eat a lobster is to do the following:

How to Eat the Lobster’s Legs

Gently twist the legs away from the lobster at their base while holding the lobster by its back. By splitting the legs at the joints and biting and sucking on their ends, you can pull little chunks of meat and lobster juice out of them. You might be able to remove flesh strings with your lobster fork as well.

How to Eat the Lobster’s Claws

Twist the claws away from the lobster at their base, just as you did with the legs. You’ll now have a claw at the end of what appears to be a “arm.” At the place of attachment, separate the arm from the claw.

Eat the Meat in the “Arm”

Remove the meat from the interior of the arm with your lobster fork. To fully access the meat, you may need to use the nutcracker to further open the shell.

Eat the Meat in the Claw

A “thumb” opposes the rest of the claw, giving it the appearance of a mitten. Pull the thumb away from the claw with your fingers first. The meat from the thumb may normally be extracted by spearing it and tugging it with your lobster fork.

Use your nutcracker to crack and remove the claw’s tip to gain access to the meat inside. The claw will now have openings on both ends—at the tip and where it meets the “arm” at the “wrist.” Push the meat out the wrist hole with a finger or a lobster fork inserted through the hole at the tip of the claw.

How to Eat the Lobster’s Tail

Grasp the top of the lobster’s back with one hand. Grasp the lobster’s tail with the other hand in the same way. Separate the two pieces of the lobster by twisting them in different directions. You have two options for getting at the tail meat at this stage.

Method 1

A white or translucent substance that feels like plastic covers the underside of the tail. Cut down the middle of this material along the length of the tail using a sharp knife, starting at the end of the tail that was originally joined to the rest of the lobster. You can remove the meat after cutting the underside of the tail so that it splits open.

Method 2

There are what appear to be a collection of little flippers near the tail’s end. Pull these flippers away from the tail, resulting in a narrow opening at the tail’s end.

Push the tail meat out the opening at the far end of the narrow hole using your finger or your lobster fork (the hole where the tail used to connect with the rest of the lobster). Peel off the digestive tract that runs down the middle of the back of the tail before eating it.

Each of the flippers also includes a small amount of delectable meat, which you can obtain by cracking open the shells of the flippers with your lobster fork.

What Else Can You Eat in a Lobster?

Some lobster fans are far more meticulous in their search for meat, scouring the innards of the lobster for any scraps they may have missed. Some lobster fans also consume the head, the green “tomalley,” and the black “coral” after removing the shell.

  • Tomalley: The green “tomalley” is actually the digestive tract of the lobster. Some lobster eaters shudder at the thought of eating it, while others rave about it. Some people recommend avoiding the tomalley for health reasons, arguing that because it is the lobster’s digestive system, it is more likely to contain contaminants than the rest of the lobster.
  • Coral: The lobster is a female if it has black “coral”—the coral is the lobster’s eggs, or roe. The coral, like the tomalley, is not for everyone, although it is considered a delicacy by others.

How to Boil Lobster

If you’re cooking a lot of lobsters, the best approach is to boil them. It takes less time than grilling and allows you to cook more lobsters in a single pot than steaming.

When cooking lobster, it’s crucial to consider how long it will take to get the water to boil. It may take a half hour or longer to bring the water to a boil, depending on the amount of water you need to boil and the strength of your store. To boil lobsters, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a big saucepan halfway with water and enough to cover the amount of lobsters you’ll be cooking. Most large pots (including lobster pots designed specifically for the purpose of cooking lobsters) can hold three or even four lobsters. You can use seawater or 1 tablespoon of salt every quart of water in the saucepan.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. When the water is rapidly boiling, thrust the lobster headfirst into the water to ensure that it dies immediately (beware of splashing, which is usually caused by the folding tail). Repeat with the remaining lobsters in the pot if you’re boiling more than one. Get the lobsters into the pot as soon as possible, because cooking time starts the instant they enter the water. Always make sure the lobster or lobsters you’re cooking are completely submerged in water.
  4. Allow 12 minutes for each pound of meat, plus an extra minute for each quarter pound.

Prick the lobster’s head to drain the water trapped inside the shell before serving. The lobster should be served whole and in its shell. If desired, serve tiny bowls of melted butter with the lobster meat for diners to dip.

How to Steam Lobster

Steaming lobsters takes less time to prepare than boiling lobsters, owing to the fact that steaming uses less water than boiling.

When steaming lobsters, however, you should only cook one or two at a time, as too many lobsters might drop the total temperature within the pot and cause the water to cease boiling. To steam lobsters, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a large pot halfway with water, leaving about 2–3″ of space at the bottom. You can use seawater or 1 tablespoon of salt every quart of water in the saucepan. Make sure the pot you’re using has a steamer attachment or a steamer basket that can hold the lobsters securely.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. Place the lobster in the steamer basket once the water is boiling.
  4. Allow 12 minutes for each pound of meat, plus an extra minute for each quarter pound.

The lobster should be served whole and in its shell. If desired, serve tiny bowls of melted butter with the lobster meat for diners to dip.

How to Grill Lobster

Lobsters are grilled significantly less frequently than they are boiled or steamed, which adds to the attractiveness of this approach. However, it takes more time and effort than boiling or steaming, and the number of lobsters you can cook is limited by the amount of grilling area you have.

  1. Split the lobsters in half, then open each half and remove the sand sac and intestine. Remove the green liver and black coral, saving them to prepare a sauce if desired.
  2. Break the claws open with a nutracker.
  3. Preheat the broiler or prepare a large grill fire.
  4. Brush the lobster flesh with melted unsalted butter and/or season with pepper, paprika, or chopped parsley if desired. Some folks also prefer to brush white wine on the lobster.
  5. Cook the lobsters with their backs to the broiler or with their backs to the grill. Grill or broil the lobsters for 15 minutes for the first pound, then another 2 1/2 minutes for every quarter pound after that. When the lobsters’ meat is no longer translucent, they are ready to eat.
  6. Remove the lobsters from the fire and set them aside.
  7. Serve with lemon slices on the side.

How to Prepare Frozen Lobster

Prior to freezing, lobster is always boiled. It’s better not to thaw frozen lobster when preparing it. If the lobster is just warmed in boiling water for two minutes, it will keep more of its taste. After the lobster has been reheated, you can use it in any dish that calls for it.

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