European Lobster, cooked and ready to eat
European Lobster, cooked and ready to eat. (Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor)

Lobster

Once thought of as the food of the rich and well healed, lobster is now widely available, at restaurants, or, buy a fresh one, and cook it at home. However you choose to eat your lobster, one thing is certain, eating it is no refined process, so probably not ideal for a first date! It’s not cheap, either and is therefore, considered to be a food to mark a special occasion or celebration.

There are two types of lobster available, originating from either America or Europe. The difference being, those from Europe are darker in colour and have smaller claws.

Spiny lobster, normally found in warmer waters, have no claws. The meat is in the tail, usually this is the only part of that is used.

Live Spiny Lobster, recognisable as it has no claws
Live Spiny Lobster, recognisable as it has no claws. (Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor)

Buying Guide:

  • The most important thing, when purchasing a lobster, is to ensure it’s live. That applies, whether you take it home and cook it, or eat it at a restaurant.
  • Make sure that the lobster you purchase is lively. If, when it is picked out of the tank, it’s lethargic or sluggish then you may need to look elsewhere. A lobster that retracts into itself as it is handled, is a good sign.
  • Lobster fished in colder waters have a better taste.
  • A good meaty lobster should feel heavy for it’s size when picked up.
  • Consume on the day of purchase – do not try to keep a lobster alive.
  • The live lobster can be kept in the fridge for several hours before cooking.
  • Cover with a moist cloth if you aren’t going to cook them immediately, this keeps the meat moist.

Cooking:

  • Cooking a live lobster, may not be appealing to the more squeamish person.
  • Season a big pan of water with thyme, bayleaves, then squeeze the juice of a lemon, and add some of the zest.
  • Bring the pot of water to a high boil.
  • Cut the bands off the claws, pick up the lobster from behind the claws, using a tea towel to ensure there are no pinching accidents.
  • Do not handle live lobsters without banded claws. They are surprisingly powerful and can do some serious damage.
  • Immerse the lobster, head first, in the pan of boiling water, cover, and boil for 15 minutes.
  • When the lobster is cooked, the shell will turn a bright red colour and the tail will be curled under.
  • Serve with a lemon butter.
  • Other more involved methods, often used in restaurants, include grilling, steaming or baking.

Tips for Eating Lobster:

  • Once cooked, remove the legs and claws from the tail.
  • Cut in half by inserting a sharp knife, at a right angle to the edge of the head, and press down firmly. The body and tail should split in half. Do the same with the head and it should be easy to separate in two halves.
  • Discard the pale stomach sac, gills, and the dark vein running down the tail.
  • The lobster can be served on a plate with the legs and claws separate.
  • You will need to have a nutcracker and a lobster fork, a small, thin, long fork for getting at the claw and leg meat.
  • Have a finger bowl handy, consisting of lukewarm water and lemon juice, as after you have finished you will need to rinse your hands.
  • You can eat the meat in the legs by twisting the legs at the joints and sucking out the thin strips of meat.
  • The best part of the lobster meat is contained in the claws and this is where it gets a little messy.
  • Take the lobster claws in your hand, grasping at the joint and twist the claws and the legs in opposite directions.
  • This will separate the claw and the arm. Using the lobster fork dig the meat out of the arm. You may find you need to crack the shell open further to extract the meat, this is where the nutcrackers come in handy.
  • Break the claws in two and then using the lobster fork and the nutcrackers, prise the meat out of the claws.
  • It’s acceptable to eat lobster, at home or in a restaurant, with your hands. The finger bowl will automatically be provided in a restaurant.
  • Pair your lobster with a chilled dry white wine, champagne, sparkling wine or even a fruity rosé.
  • The best news is, nutritionally, they are very good for you with lower cholesterol, calories, and saturated fats than both chicken and turkey.

What Else?

There are other parts of the lobster which can be eaten:

  • The tomalley, which is the digestive system, appears green in colour. There is a belief that it is not good for your health, as toxins from the lobster may be stored here. This is an important consideration when consuming atlantic lobster.
  • Lobster roe can be found, only in the female lobster, also known as lobster caviar. It is found in the body cavity and can be cooked and eaten.
  • Do not eat the lobster caviar if it appears black in colour. This is uncooked and will make you unwell.
  • The shell of a lobster can be used to make soup or lobster bisque by grinding the shell and adding to the bisque.

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About Charlie Taylor

Originally from the UK and having travelled extensively professionally and personally, Charlie lives in Voorburg, Zuid Holland and speaks Dutch fluently. A keen Photographer and Writer she plans to visit, photograph, and write about European Cities; and believes that life is full of surprises. . . . .

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One Response to "How to Eat: Lobster"

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