Ask LH: How the Heck Do I Cook a Lobster?

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Ask LH: How the Heck Do I Cook a Lobster?
Western Rock Lobster. Photo by: Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As you may know by now, supermarkets across Australia are slinging lobsters for record prices. You can nab Western Rock Lobsters for a low as $20 right now, which is an exciting prospect for folks hoping to cook up a seafood feast over Christmas.

The thing is, if you’re like a lot of people (slash me), you’ve probably never cooked lobster before and have no bloody clue where to start with the suckers.

So, for this week’s Ask Lifehacker column, I chatted with an expert over email to get some insight into learning your way around a lobster.

Aussie chef Mark Best – who was featured on Netflix’s The Final Table – and is currently working as an AEG Ambassador, explained the ins and outs of cooking lobster for the first time.

Here are his top tips:

To prepare lobsters, cut them lengthwise:

When you’ve got your lobster ready to prep, Best suggested slicing them down the middle.

“If your knife skills are up to it, you can cut them lengthwise,” he said.

But if you’re feeling uncomfortable with that, don’t stress, “the fish market will be able to do it for you”.

Lobster tail is the where all the flavour is at:

The tail of the lobster is where you’ll find most of that tasty meat, so give it some love. Best shared that there are a few steps to preparing your lobster tail:

“If you just want to cook the tail meat, you’ll need to remove the flesh from the shell and cut it into slices before you cook it. This can be done by butterflying the tail (cutting down the middle), removing the greyish black intestinal thread that runs down the tail and removing the meat from the tail by loosening it with your fingers and pulling it out in one whole section.”

Here’s a quick video I found that should help:

Don’t forget the rest of the lobster meat, though:

Best explained that “there’s a lot of delicious meat” around lobster claws, as well as “around the head and the claws. Do take the time to use a pair of scissors and snip off the knuckles and take out all of the leg meat as well,” he said.

It’s important to remember there are a lot of usable parts to the lobster you’ve just taken home, so take advantage of them all.

“Don’t just use the tail meat,” Best shared.

Keep the flavours simple:

Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you need to deliver some incredibly involved dish just because you bought lobster. Best shared that it’s always nice to stick to old classics:

“Lobster is best paired with a simple dressing like herb butter or olive oil with fresh herbs on the grill salt and pepper,” he said.

Buying live lobsters:

Since this article’s original publish date, it’s been announced by the RSPCA that standards on how to humanely kill a lobster have changed. The RSPCA states that lobsters should be first stunned (by electrical stunning in water, or through chilling), then spiked (which the RSPCA says “involves rapidly cutting through the centre-line of the head, thorax (chest) and abdomen with a large, sharp knife”).

Following this advice, Roberta Muir, manager of Sydney Seafood School says she now suggests folks buy lobsters cooked. Over email she told Lifechacker her advice is to “use them for a salad, to garnish cold soups (like gazpacho) or toss through a risotto or pasta at the last minute (so as to heat it through without recooking it)”.

If you’d like another explainer, check out this video based on Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food cookbook:

In the end, a lot of this is going to come down to your own comfort levels and how much work you’d like to put into your lobster prep. If you’re not keen on really getting in there with a knife or dealing with a live lobster, skip those steps by asking the folks at your supermarket or fish market to prep them for you first.

Best of luck!

If you’ve got a question for Ask Lifehacker, be sure to pop them in the comments below. We’ll do our best to answer them for ya!

This article has been updated since its original publish date to include the most recent advice of the RSPCA.

Comments

  • As a seasoned Crayfish cooker, the simplest solution (and one that many will find anyway) is to buy them pre cooked. The photo at the top is what they look like alive, usually more brown than red, when cooked they are bright red.
    If you are getting your cray direct off the boat, ( and in WA that’s where many of the sales are happening now) then you will have to cook it. Remember to salt the water to ensure that the meat is not tough. Probably only need to boil for 5 minutes otherwise the flesh is over cooked and tough.
    Personal preference with fresh crayfish, is vinegar, aoli or light seafood dressing, on fresh bread , Yum!!!

    • By the way, purchased one from the local fish and chip shop the other night, $6 per kilo, already cooked and was swimming in the ocean that morning. Tasted awesome.

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