Today was a really fun day! Tonya, a good friend of mine, went with me to shop for seafood. I think she was somewhat surprised to see me stick my hand right into the lobster tank.
This is one of those posts that may not be easy for everyone to read. Most all shellfish should be alive before cooking. This makes it really hard for a lot of people to handle. BEING HUMANE IS KEY!
I’ve worked for many years cooking and handling lobsters, blue crab, shrimp, mussels, and clams. The fresher the seafood, the better the finished dish is going to be.
The Lobster Institute came up with a study. The study reads… lobsters, like insects, do not have complex brains that allow them to process pain like humans other animals do. They have compared it to when you kill a mosquito. Cooking a lobster, in the practical sense, is like killing a large bug.
To put a live lobster to sleep, first, cross the arms of the lobster then set it down, on its head, tail up, on the counter. Rub the back of the thorax in an up and down motion with your fingers. Do this for about 45 seconds. Let go and the lobster will balance on its head and not move. This is when you know the lobster’s asleep.
How To Cook And Open A Lobster.
How’s this for a finished dish, My Seafood Scampi Over Linguine. Great to take to parties. For this recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The only changes are the addition of cooked lobster and fresh tarragon, for Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine.
Prep Time: 5 to 7 minutes (Allow for time to put the lobster to sleep as explained below and 5 to 7 minutes to bring water to a hard boil.)
Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes per pound (Cooked lobster should be vibrant red in color)
Total Time: approx. 27 minutes
Equipment: Large stockpot with lid (8 to 16-quart pot), meat mallet, 1 lobster cracker, 1 lobster pick
1 (2-pound) lobster, live
1 1/2 quarts of water
2 heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt
Let’s get back to cooking and opening a lobster. Once I bring the lobster(s) home, I make sure they are kept in the bag with some crushed ice. You want to cook them as soon as possible. Before placing them into the pot of boiling water, I put them to sleep. This is something I learned when I worked at a seafood restaurant.
Place the lobster face (head) down on a counter, tail end in the air. Cross their arms and claws, then rub the backside (the thorax) of its shell, in an up and down motion. In about 45 seconds, their legs and antenna will stop moving. The lobster will then be asleep. Balancing on their heads, by themselves on the counter. If you want to see how this is done, just google “How to put a lobster to sleep”, and there are videos available.
I make sure that the water is salted, with sprigs of fresh tarragon, and at a hard boil. Next, I place the sleeping lobster, head first, immediately into the boiling water. You’ll notice that the lobster is not totally submerged. I prefer to let steam and water cook the lobster. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot. Using a dishtowel, I hold on to the lid for about 10 seconds before letting go.
In a very large stockpot, I place water and tarragon into the water. On high heat, I bring the water up to a hard boil. I place the sleeping lobster into the boiling water then place the lid on, holding it with a towel for around 10 seconds.
Once cooked, I lift the lobster up using large tongs to release any excess water the lobster may hold, back into the pot. Next, I place the lobster into a large plastic container to cool before removing the meat.
Once cooled, first I take off the rubber bands from the claws. I remove the arms with the claws. Next, I twist off the tail to release it from the body, also known as the thorax. Discard the thorax.
There are two ways to remove the meat from the tail. The first is to bend, in a backward direction. Now the very end of the tail meat is showing. Use a pair of scissors and cut down the inner side of the tail to release the meat. The other way is to squeeze to tail together until you hear the backside snap. Turn the tail over, where the underbelly is facing in the upward direction. Using two hands, split the tail open.
Note: Fill a large bowl filled with warm water to remove the *Tomalley.
There is a piece that needs to be removed on the outer side of the tail meat. It’s really fibrous, just discard. You’ll notice a green paste-like substance known as *Tomalley. Rinse off the *Tomalley using warm water. The tail is now clean and done. Next, the claws.
This is where a good pair of lobster crackers come in handy. Another great tool is the meat mallet. One of the claws is larger and harder to crack than the other one. You may need some help with that one, that’s why I mentioned using a meat mallet.
Lay a towel over the larger claw and hit it one time. That should put a crack into the claw and make it easier to remove the meat in one piece. When using the crackers, be careful not to crack the meat, just the shell. This is to ensure the meat will come out in one piece. The arms can be a bit tricky, they have knuckles, and meat can get caught. There are lobster picks available to make that job easier.
There you have it, my Seafood Scampi Over Linguine.
Great to take to parties. For this recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The only changes are the addition of cooked lobster and fresh tarragon, for Seafood Scampi Over Linguine.
*Tomalley is a green substance (lobster paste) found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas.