Food & Drink

How to Properly Crack and Eat a Lobster

Spend Your 4th of July with a Buttery Crustacean

Joy Real / Unsplash

This 4th of July, your friends and neighbors will devour countless hamburgers and hot dogs.

And you will respect their choice to do so.

While you tie a bib around your neck and dive into some fresh lobster.

Because today, with this newfound knowledge, you will become a master of cracking open and eating the hard-shelled crustaceans. And that's a hell of a party trick—even when you're just hosting a party of one, or sharing your bounty with a couple of socially distanced pals in the backyard. 

The pro tips below come from Josh Davoudi, Executive Sous Chef of The Lobster Place, that long-standing seafood emporium at NYC's Chelsea Market. Use them wisely.

The Lobster Place

What You'll Need:

  • Whole cooked lobsters that have been dunked in an ice bath to stop the cooking process
  • Melted butter
  • Seafood scissors
  • Seafood/nut crackers
  • Thin metal seafood picks

How to Do It:

1. Remove the claws by holding the lobster body in one hand and twisting the claws off the body with your other hand.

2. Separate the tail from the body by twisting and pulling them apart with your hands.

3. Don’t throw out the body or head. It has a lot of meat in it. First, pull the top shell away from the body and discard. Look inside the cavity. If you pick out the thin papery shells separating the meat, you’ll end up with about half a cup of lobster rib meat.

4. Pull the legs and the pale spongy gills away from the body. Suck the meat and juices out of the legs.

5. Go back to the claws. Separate the claws at the joints to get four pieces. Use the crackers or scissors to remove the shell and get to the meat. Scissors work best here to get one big, unbroken piece of claw meat.

6. Now, time for the tail piece. First, pick off the tail flaps and suck the juices and meat out of the holes.

7. Next, extract the tail meat out of the shell in one piece. Stick your finger in the base of the tail at the smallest opening where the tail flaps were and push the tail meat out. It will look like a giant shrimp. If your lobster is a female, you will find delicious roe at the top ridge of the tail meat. If it’s black, it’s undercooked and inedible. Steam it for a minute or two until it's red, and then you can eat it.

And there you have it. Consult this guide on the 4th, or whenever an occasion calls for lobster. 

Creating your own occasion is also acceptable.

The first and third Tuesday of each month, for example.

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