The Frisky staff will stop bragging about our road trip to Maine this weekend soon, but not today. No, today I am going to teach you everything that I know about selecting, boiling, and eating lobsters in your very own home.
• A lobster pot, aka a stock pot
• Lobster crackers and lobster picks
• Ramekens or small bowls for melted butter
• A large bowl for the shells
• Lots and lots of dish towels, paper towels, and/or napkins
1. Before you even buy yourself some lobsters to eat, you need to make sure you have the appropriate pot to cook it in and the crackers/picks to eat them. You can buy a stock pot (may also be called a lobster pot) for $30 at any decent home goods store like Bed, Bath & Beyond. The crackers/picks should be sold in the utensils section and shouldn’t cost more than a few bucks. Do not try to eat lobsters without crackers or lobster picks! Those shells can be tough.
2. Buying fresh lobsters does not have to be super expensive! I know that lobster dinners sound fancy — and are priced fancy — when you go out to eat in restaurants. But I grew up in New England, where they can be bought relatively cheaply. Some people sell them straight off their dock/boat or you could buy them from a fish market. Do a little research to find out who has the best prices. I bought four 1.5-lb. lobsters in Maine for around $50.
3. Pick what size and how many lobsters you want to get. Smaller lobsters are sold under the nickname “chickens.” They usually weigh less than a pound and will cost less. Larger lobsters may be as big as two or three pounds and will (obviously) cost more. I can eat two medium-sized lobsters, three if I am really pushing myself.
4. Lobsters need to stay cold before you eat them. By that I mean, they need to stay alive and they stay alive by staying cold. The people you buy lobsters from will pack them up in ice and special bags. (All lobsters will have strong rubber bands around both their claws. DO NOT remove these until after the lobsters are cooked.) You can also put them in a cooler. When you get home, pop ‘em in your fridge. I didn’t have room in my fridge, so I placed the bags they were in next to my air conditioner, which was blasting freezing cold air.
5. Fill your lobster pot with water and boil it. You can use sea water to boil your lobsters, but in my opinion that makes them taste really salty. There are two predominant methods on how to boil a lobster. One is to put the lobsters in the cold water and let them slowly heat it up . Some people say this is more compassionate because it “puts the lobster to sleep.” I don’t know if that is true. The other way to cook a lobster, which is the way that I have always done, is to submerge the lobsters into the pots of boiling water, which supposedly kills them instantly. It’s up to you how to do it. (Alternately you may want to steam your lobsters, but you’ll have to find someone else to tell you how to do that.)
7. Remove the boiled lobsters with tongs and let them cool. (You can cut off the elastics on the lobsters claws with scissors finally.) While they’re cooling, melt your butter. I suggest half a stick of butter per lobster, although you can adjust your butter consumption based on your own shame at consuming large quantities of melted saturated fats. Pour the melted butter in small bowls or kitchen ramekens with lobster prints on the side.
8. Cover the table you are eating on: a tablecloth, dish towels, or like we do at my parents’ house, folded out sections of the newspapers. Ripping apart lobsters are messy. Wear your sloppiest clothing for the carnage. Trust me on this. You’ll have napkins, but you’re still going to spray lobster juice, roe and unidentifiable green stuff all over yourself.
9. Get cracking! Meat is located in the claws, the arms, in each of the legs and in the tail. Use your cracker to break the claws and arms and your pick to get the meat out of there. You can just rip the legs off yourself and chew on them to get the meat out. (Don’t actually swallow the parts of the shell that you chew.) Throw all the discarded shells into your large bowl for easy cleanup. To get to the tail meat, twist the lobster’s head from it’s torso (er, torso-tail?) and throw away the head part in your bowl. Removing the meat from the tail is the most difficult part of eating lobster, so you may have to use your cracker again or ask someone who is really strong to just rip the tail in half. As you remove meat, you can dip it or soak it in the melted butter. I’m a soaker.
10. Did I mention that eating lobster is really fucking messy? Eating lobster is really fucking messy. Keep a bajillion napkins or paper towels on hand. You will probably get green goo on your clothes/in your hair and possibly red stuff, if you are eating a female lobster. That red stuff is roe and some people consider it a delicacy. Eat it if you want. It won’t hurt you. Don’t eat the green goo, though. Also, be careful with the crackers and picks. I have a tiny stab wound on my right palm now because I accidentally stabbed myself with a lobster pick. Which, incidentally, would be a really WASPy way to die.
11. The cleanup is SO EASY. Just throw all the shells and shit you threw into your bowl into a trash bag and take the trash out. You really don’t want to leave that kinda garbage sitting in a hot house or apartment overnight. Unless you like your house smelling like fish, that is.
12. Post lotsa pictures of your lobster dinner on Instagram and Facebook — like this one at my house (above)! — so all your friends are mad jealous.
Okay, so, I emailed my boyfriend, Kale, to ask if he had anything to add to this piece. He wrote back an entire piece of his own about how to cook and eat a lobster. THAT’S NOT WHAT I ASKED FOR, HONEY. But okay. Amelia said we are not running two articles on The Frisky about how to cook lobsters — uhhh, Lobster Week anyone? — so here are Kale’s separate tips on how to do the lobster thing. I would just like to make clear that Kale has never before made lobsters in his life before we did it together, so if you are going to follow either of our lobster-cooking tips to the letter, I would suggest you follow mine.
Take it away, Kale! (That’s him below in what he calls his “Tony Soprano shirt,” i.e. the shirt he didn’t mind getting lobster juice sprayed all over.)
1. “You are a killer. Leave behind all soft and compassionate thoughts. You are an apex predator. Top of the food chain. Nature exists to serve you.” Look yourself in your cold, dead eyes in the mirror and repeat this to yourself until you feel ready to drop a living creature into boiling water.
3. Two 1.5 pound lobsters in a 12 gallon pot will take around 15 minutes to cook. Use these minutes well. Experts advise having sex before eating the lobster, if possible. The flesh of this delicious crustacean shouldn’t stop you from getting in the mood, but a half pound of melted butter might. Also, it’s best to take your clothes off before getting to grips with a dominant claw. (Or with a lobster, whaaaaaat?!)
4. Drain and plate the lobsters. Melt as much butter as you can imagine and pour it into a gravy boat or large punch bowl. Dim the lamps in your dining room and light a few candles. Why bother when you already got it on? Because style, that’s why. Because class.
5. Maine tradition demands that before beginning to eat your lobster, you turn it over and announce it’s sex. If this seems kind of gross to you, follow the Astoria tradition: pick your lobster up, whole, and make it dance around the table while singing “Under the Sea” in full. Include a somersault or, with your partner, a fancy link-claws-and-twirl-around move when you get to the ‘hot crustacean band’ line.
6. Remove and crack claws using a purpose-built tool such as a lobster cracker (available at kitchen stores) or a boyfriend. Remove the meat, dunk or soak in butter and eat.
7. Twist off the tail and extract the tail meat in a single piece. Remove roe and discard or give to boyfriend. Dunk or soak meat in butter and eat.
8. Repeat until you run out of lobsters, butter or napkins.
9. Don’t skip the cleanup. Dump all shells, carcasses and napkins into a plastic bag and waddle outside to your trashcan or, for preference, your neighbour’s trash can.
10. Still feel like fucking? Didn’t think so. Go to bed.
Any lobster tips of your own? Share them in the comments!