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How To Eat a Lobster

December 14th, 2012 Cooking

Does any other food have more potential for disaster than lobster? It's not every day you see adults wearing bibs, but somehow these crustaceans manage to bring out our messy sides no matter how hard we try. It may seem like there's no way to access all of the meat without frustratedly snapping off tiny specks of shell until it finally gives way. But eating lobster doesn't have to be an exercise in mess-making - it just takes a little bit of know-how and a proper strategy to make it happen.

1. Opening movements. There's no correct way to eat lobster, per se, but some methods will make the rest of the process easier. According to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), you should start by turning it over and snapping off the legs with a gentle twist and pull. You can continue to break them into smaller sections or go straight for the meat by sucking on the wide end as though it were a straw. It may seem like a lot of work, but there are tasty bits of meat inside that you should enjoy! After all, you paid good money for this lobster - you might as well get as much value out of it as possible.

Next, separate, the claw from the body by yanking it out at the "arm." Gently remove the loose appendage from the rest of the claw. You can find a bit of meat inside here without much trouble. Now you'll want to break off the small claw from the larger one - do so by bending it outwards until it snaps off. Use a cracker or a fork to break open tip of the large claw and then remove the meat using a fork or your finger.

New York Magazine recommends paying attention to the claw meat - if a lobster has been in its tank for a long time, the muscles will have atrophied. In healthy lobsters, the claw meat should just about fill the space inside the shell.

2. The good stuff. Although some people will swear by claw meat, many consider the tail to be the best part of a lobster. Remove it by grabbing either side and twisting until it comes off. You can choose to break off the small fan at the end of the tail - it will yield small bits of meat if you're willing to put in the extra work, though you may decide it's not worth the effort. You can either pick at the meat inside the shell or use your finger to push it out of the large opening. The tail is where you'll find the largest concentration of meat, so it's a good idea to be careful when working with it.

3. Everything else. If you're feeling tenacious, you may be able to find small chunks of meat throughout the rest of the lobster's body. There are a few things you should know before exploring the carapace, however.

You're most likely to encounter a green "guacamole" while eating your lobster. This is known as tomalley - it may not look appetizing, but you can eat it on its own or mix it with bread crumbs to make stuffing. However, the GMRI recommends leaving it alone - tomalley is essentially the lobster's digestive system, so you're eating all of the stuff that his body has decided could be potentially harmful.

If you see bright red stuff, you're looking at unfertilized eggs, or roe. Roe is edible, not unlike caviar.

Everything else, such as the antennae and the eyes, is inedible.