How do you eat a lobster? With gusto! Roll up your sleeves and be ready to get ready to really to work with and handle your food. This is no time to be delicate. You are about to consume something delicious. Use the bib!
How To Eat A Whole Lobster
If the lobster in front of you is whole and has claws, you are about to eat a cold water lobster, often from and called a Maine lobster. The shell is extremely hard, so you'll need some tools.
A lobster cracker is a stainless steel tool that can be expanded to 180 degrees. You'll grip down on this to crack the claws and the knuckles of your lobster. Shears will come in handy, or you may have been given a knife.
Finally, you should have a tiny lobster fork or pick, specially sized to extract meat from knuckles and legs.
Your lobster will be hot. If gloves are available, use them.
Remove the claws first by breaking them away from the torso of your lobster. The claws will be different sized; namely, a pincher and a crusher. Grasp the claw at the knuckle near the torso, twist and pull.
While lobster anatomy indicates the shell can grow extremely hard, there are hinge points all over the lobster. The best method to break them down is to...
Twist & Pull
Next, crack the tail away from the torso. Again, twist and pull. Be aware that there will be liquid inside your lobster, and it will be hot, so now is definitely the time to abandon decorum and put that bib on!
Once the tail if off, open the cavity by pulling the body away from the belly. The meat inside the cavity is not plentiful, but well worth the work.
The legs can be hard to open, but Rich Vellante with Legal Sea Foods suggests compressing the legs with a rolled wine bottle or a pepper mill to force the meat out of the legs.
You have successfully segmented your lobster! Now, to get to the meat. Using your shears, cut open the smooth side of the tail, flexing open the shell to free up the meat.
To get into the claws, first twist and break away the smaller part of the claw. As it snaps off, the meat should remain. Next, you'll need the crusher.
Crack the body of the larger half of the claws. For many seafood lovers, lobster claw meat has the very best flavor. The crushers will break the shell so you can free up that delectable claw meat.
Additional meat can be found in the knuckles. Your lobster fork or pick will be very handy in drawing out these small but delicious bits of lobster.
Your reward for all this work? Dunk your hard-won lobster in some butter and enjoy!
Lobster Tomalley (Lobster Tamale)
When eating whole lobster, you may encounter more than shell and meat. If your lobster is a girl, you may find red roe. This is entirely edible, and many consider it a treat.
You will also find the Tomalley, which functions as the liver and pancreas of the lobster. At one point, diners were encouraged to discard the Tomalley as it contained high levels of dioxin.
Lobster experts at OffshoreLobster.org assure lobster fans that no dioxin has been found in the flesh of Maine lobsters. The dioxin warning has recurred over the years.
There is always a risk when consuming organs, particularly the liver of any animal as it acts as a filter for environmental toxins. If you're not certain, skip it. If there are no warnings and you're feeling adventurous, try it!
Your chef should be able to let you know if there are any concerns about toxins in the Tomalley of the lobster on your plate.
How To Eat Lobster Tail
Most lobster tails come from warm water lobsters, or lobsters with no discernible front claws. These lobsters are seldom sold whole, so consumers have some flexibility when purchasing lobster tails. Tails can be easily flash frozen and shipped for convenience.
A thawed lobster tail doesn't need to boil for long, so be prepared for it to arrive at your table piping hot. If you've been given a shears, slice through the curved segments on the top side of the tail.
If not, flex the lobster tail to loosen the meat from the shell as moisture may cause it to cling. Work your knife under the segments with care.
Once the meat is free, chefs at ExpertVillage suggest splitting the tail along the top of the curve and remove the digestive tract. You may find red roe, which can be eaten.
You may also find a green film called Tomalley. This is the liver and pancreas of the lobster, and may or may not be safe. See above for toxicity concerns.
Your lobster tail may be delivered to your table in a split shell with flesh already cut. While there may not be any roe for you to to enjoy, the Tomalley is gone and you can dig in.
Lobster is a delicious treat. Don't let "Market Price" put you off. Ask your server if they're serving Maine lobster or rock lobster, determine whether you'll be eating whole lobster or tail, and enjoy your meal!