lobsters are my thang.
when the lobster deliveries would arrive at the restaurant, prepping them, more often than not, fell on my shoulders. after 20/day for a few days straight, i'd get a little tired of it, and my poor hands would be a bit destroyed, but in moderation they're fun and rewarding and oh so tasty!
yesterday i got myself some monstrous beasts - 4 pounders. the fisherman assured me that the shell to meat ratio is always pretty much the same, ergo the yield on one 4 pounder would be equal to four 1 pounders, so i figured less cracking and went with the gargantuan ones.
all you really need to tackle a lobster is pictured here (oh and a rolling pin - but we'll get to that later...). i don't use my cleaver for much else, but it does a number on the thick shell of the claw. the chopsticks are great for picking the meat out of hard to reach places, and the scissors aren't imperative but they do help limit the amount of damage done to the hands.
first things first, you've got to cook the lobsters.
i've been steaming them lately - it uses less water, comes up to the boil faster, the flavour is more 'lobstery', and they are less sloppy when you go to crack them later on. for lobsters this size, i've been steaming them for 18 minutes. they are slightly undercooked, but that's on purpose because they get cooked again when you heat up the lobster mac & cheese and i don't want them to get rubbery & overcooked.
in a restaurant setting, i would rip the claws and tail off and cook them separately - claws 6 mins, tails 4 mins (skewered on a chopstick to keep them straight). maybe i'm getting soft in my old age, but i just can't do it with these giant ones, or maybe it's because they scare me a little, as well as the karmic retribution!
ok, let them cool a little and then get to work.
rip em apart.
crack the shell of the tail - i normally stand on my tiptoes and smoosh it, like doing a cpr chest compression and then use the scissors to cut down the soft side of the tail. then wiggle and jiggle the meat until it slides out in one piece.
normally the shell will remain intact as well, but i ripped this one apart with my sheer, brute strength!
then it's time for the claws. i put my knife beside it to give a visual of the enormity of them. not gonna lie, i worked up quite a sweat and was out of breath after dealing with them.
separate the claws at all of the joints. when removing the thumb (i guess that's what it is) make sure that the two pieces of cartilage come with it. then crack the shell with the blunt side of the cleaver and pull out the claw meat.
then it's time to move on to the knuckles - my favourites! i use my index finger to push the meat out of the bigger section. if you don't have girl hands, you can always use the scissors to cut the shell and fish the meat out. then use a chopstick to scoop it out of the smaller, bottom portion - comme ca:
and last but not least, the legs. this is where the rolling pin comes in - and another little trick i learned from reading thomas kellar's ad hoc at home (i love that book!).
crack each leg in half and roll. it will force all of the meat out. it's quite labour intensive and would typically go in the garbage but some wise women once told me (well actually it was last saturday and the nice ladies upstairs at the market) 'the profits are in what you throw away' so i'm taking the time to do it.
and one last step:
lobster juice has a tendency to fly all over the kitchen. clean, step back, survey the scene, and clean again. you'll be amazed at the places it ends up...i have to go wash the curtains.
future blogs posts will involve sugar & spice and everything nice, instead of just the gruesome kitchen jobs, promise.