Do you know how to sex a lobster?
My Memorial Day treat this year was lobster. . I purchased at them Shaw’s Supermarket since they were on sale; $5.99 a pound who could resist?
I’ll give you the scoop on how to dissect those bad boys, it can be a challenge. And I say boys because that is exactly what they are. The clerk is always thrown when I request only the males. I get this deer-in –the-headlights look every time. The reason for males is simple; it has to do with cooking time. You see, the females have roe in them. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s that bright coral colored mass just above the tail. Now this isn’t red when raw, it’s actually black and gross looking. It turns red when cooked. The challenge becomes how much to cook them. If I cook them long enough to assure that the roe is coral color (and not black and slimy) the delicate tail meat is then over-cooked. So by choosing only the males, I side-step that total issue.
Now the question is: “Lady, are you nuts? How can you tell the sex of a lobster?” Here is how:
Look at the set of appendages at the base of the lobster’s tummy. (These are the small feathery fin-like things on the underside of the tail.) The first pair of swimmerets closest to the body is hard and bony on a male; the female’s are soft and feathery. Makes perfect sense, huh?
Next I put them in the freezer for a half hour. This puts them into a lethargic state so they are unaware of the cooking to come.
There are many choices on how to cook your lobster. The most delicious way is on the grill. Since I don’t yet have my grill (replacement for the one that went curbside last season), Steaming is a good option. Stuffed is awesome, but it’s a little more work and today I’ll forgo that.
I put about 2 inches of salted water in the bottom of a large kettle and bring to a rolling boil. Next add lobsters quickly, one at a time. Cover the kettle and return water to boil and begin timing. Allow 13 minutes for 1 pound hard-shell lobsters. Add 3 minutes per pound for each additional pound. When the antennae pull out easily, the lobsters are done.
Note: If the lobsters are new-shell lobsters with soft shells (“shedders”), reduce boiling or steaming time by three minutes. I prefer not to have the soft shell lobsters.
While the lobsters are being put to sleep, create your garlic butter.
I like to clarify the butter. Crush a clove of garlic for each stick of butter. Now add to butter and melt. Pour into a glass measuring cup. Two people, one stick is fine. Let sit for 5 minutes and skim the foam off the top. Next pour the remaining butter into another receptacle leaving the milk solids that have settled to the bottom. There you have it. Done and the lobsters are still at the spa going to sleep.
If you are making accompaniments, prepare them now. Salads, fries or whatever. I personally don’t often make fries, but with lobster I like them. So fries and salad is my choice to accompany today’s lobster. The principle is to have everything ready, table set and cook the lobsters last.
Finally, how do you attack that bad boy and eat it? Well here you go.
Be sure to have each person armed with a sturdy lobster/nut cracker, small pick and plenty of napkins. Provide a bowl for shells.
Once the lobster is cool enough to handle remove the claws and set aside. Next remove the tail. Grasp the body in one hand tail in the other and twist. At this point you may see some of the green tomalley on the meat; this is a delicious delicacy the remainder of which is inside the body cavity.
The tail is my favorite part so I eat it first. Insert your fork just inside the shell between the meat and the shell. The shape mimics the shape of the fork. Give it a twist and pull the meat out. I always pull away the flap on the back of the tail and remove the black membrane; it mostly pulls away in one piece, discard. The flap itself is edible and a tasty part of the treat.
There is sweet meat inside the walls of the body cavity. Avoid eating the feathery parts but in between there are pockets of meat. They are a challenge to get at but worth the work. This is where you can enjoy the remainder of the tomalley. Often it occurs that a friend turns up their nose and says yuk! I never try and convince them otherwise, I just enjoy theirs.
There is meat in the small feet if you are patient enough to get at it. I twist the leg in half and 8 out of ten times the meat slides out of one side. If you are so inclined eat the meat and then suck the meat out of the remaining side. I’m not sure what Miss Manners would say about that; here in Rhode Island it is perfectly acceptable.
Finally, the claws. Break at the knuckle joints using your lobster cracker break open the shells to get the meat inside. Some people consider this meat the sweetest. You will need to use your small pick to get into the knuckles to retrieve the meat.
Do you cook lobster at home? Share your recipes.