Now this section is definitely not for the squeamish!!! You are about to learn how to prepare and cook a
live lobster, fun and games until you get the hang of it. Angry lobsters roaring around your kitchen and chasing your cat!! Make sure you have a first-aid kit handy because angry lobsters have the
propensity to give you a nasty nip. Now remember whole lobsters should be purchased live and as close to cooking as possible. If you can't bring them home and cook immediately, store them in the
refrigerator. Choose them yourself and pick the most active ones in the tank. Try to find two that weigh close to the same amount since the cooking time is based on the weight
How to "Kill" your Lobster
Before starting, let's clear up two myths:
1. The lobster's nervous system does not sense pain and therefore, the lobster does not feel pain when placed into the water.
2. Lobsters do not have vocal cords. They are not capable of making noise, let alone screaming. If you do hear anything, it is whistling sound as steam that has been built up under the lobsters shell escapes.
Everybody has their preferred method of dispatching a lobster, from drowning in fresh water to dropping them into boiling water and many ideas in between. Most of the ideas have a certain merit since a Lobster is a cold blooded creature with no brain as we understand it, except for its nervous system with two processing centres, and body fluids which are pumped around its system by muscle movement. So it is not possible to kill it, in the normal meaning of the word.
However, some people are not happy with the idea of tossing what are essentially live “animals” into a pot of boiling water, though, and there are debates on the most humane way to dispatch them. Some people plunge a heavy chef's knife into the back of the lobster's head, about an inch behind the eyes, to do them in before cooking – my preferred method!!. The same can be done for crabs. This method clearly kills them instantly, although they may continue to flop around for a bit — just as they do in the pot of boiling water. In my experience, it takes at least as much fortitude to kill them with a knife as to toss them in the pot.
By the way never remove the bands on its claws, they were put there to prevent them eating each other as they are carnivorous and very fast and strong at room temperature. I know, it would not be the first time that one has had a go at me!!
Now this is My Method!
You must first cut it in half down the centre. This job is one that is best left to a 25 centimetre chefs' knife, and one with a fair amount of weight.
With the lobster sitting where the tail curls towards the table, flatten it out and in one hand grasp the tail where it joins the body.
In the other hand, take the knife's point and aim for the place an inch or an inch and a half from between the eyes towards the tail. The blade of the knife should be facing away from your hand that is holding the tail.
Press the point of the knife into the head at that point until the point of the knife goes all the way through the lobster's head to the cutting board, then bring the blade down between the eyes to finish the cut of the head. This kills the lobster as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Now split the body open with a strong, short-bladed knife, working from left to right. Turn the lobster round and split the tail. Remove the intestine (grey gut underneath the pink flesh in the tail) and the sand sac, throwing both in the bin. But make sure you keep the juices and the creamy greenish coloured matter for later use (see recipes).
Cooking your Lobster
Boiling: This is the most common way to prepare whole lobster. If you can boil water, you can boil a lobster. You will need to use a large stockpot as you will need around 3½ litres of water for 1 kilo of lobster. This doesn't have to be exact but the lobsters do have to be completely submerged. Add 1/4 cup of sea salt to 5 litres of water and some lemon juice. You can add other ingredients (such as wine, onions, seasonings etc.) but it isn't necessary.
Cooking timing is never an exact thing but should average 10 minutes for the first pound and 3 minutes for each additional pound. Use the antennae test to double check.
1. Bring the water to a hard boil.
2. Holding the lobster by its back, snip off the rubber bands holding the claws together. Depending on how active the lobster is, this may be a two person job.
3. Place the lobsters head first into the water and cover the pot.
Steaming: Believe it or not you can steam a lobster. You will need a large stock pot that is capable of holding both of the lobsters comfortably and has a snug lid to prevent the steam from escaping. As for the cooking time is not an exact science: 10 minutes for the first half kilogramme and 8 minutes for each additional half kilogramme, or 2 minutes for each extra 125 grams. Double check using the antennae test.
1. Put 2 inches of water and a teaspoon of sea salt into the pot.
2. Add the steaming rack and bring the water to a fast boil.
3. Holding the lobster by its back, snip off the rubber bands holding the claws together and place them on top of the rack. Repeat with second lobster.
4. Cover the pot and start timing as soon as it reaches a slow boil.
Serve immediately with hot butter.
Grilling: Both boiled and steamed whole lobsters can also be grilled. Simply follow the above directions, cutting down the cooking time to 5 minutes.
1. Remove lobsters from water, plunging them immediately into a large container of iced water to stop the cooking process.
2. Move them to a cutting board, and place on it's back. Cut down the middle, do not cut all the way through the shell. Also crack open the claws.
3. Brush prepared melted butter directly onto all exposed meat, including claws.
4. Grill the lobsters over medium-high heat with the shell side down for 4 to 5 minutes. Baste with more butter and continue grilling another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately with additional butter.
Now for a couple of interesting recipes
Homard à l'Armoricaine
2 live Lobsters (800 grams each)
6 chopped Shallots
1 large clove Garlic (Crushed
3 Tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
1 small bouquet garni ( parsley,bay and thyme)
1 sprig Tarragon
1 pinch, dried red "Porphyra" Seaweed
1 stale dried-up crusty bread roll
35 cl Muscadet-sur-Lie
2 desert-spoons Cognac
½ teaspoon Curry Powder
⅓ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
10 cl Olive Oil
Sea-salt and pepper
Having killed your lobsters using my method above and cut it into small pieces, pour some Olive Oil into a high-sided frying pan and warm over a high heat until it almost starts smoking. Place the pieces of lobster in the pan, making sure to move them around with a spatula so as they cook evenly and the shells turn red. Now pour in the Cognac and set the pan alight - be careful - it can flash up quite quickly and you don't want to set fire to yourself!!
Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots and garlic, stirring for a few seconds, now add the chopped tomatoes, crumbled bread roll, a pinch of dried "porphyra" seaweed, sugar, bouquet garni, tarragon, curry powder, Cayenne pepper, sea-salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure the lobster takes in the flavours of the various herbs and spices. Pour in the white wine, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the lobster from the pan and place to one side in a basin covered in aluminiium foil to prevent the lobster drying out. Now pour the creamy matter and the fluid from the body, which you previously saved, into the pan. reduce the sauce for 5 minutes then remove the tarragon and bouquet garni. Pour into a blender and whisk.
Return the sauce and the lobster to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Lay the pieces of lobster on a serving dish and pour the sauce over the top. Serve with Trois-Grain pilaf - the recipe can be found here: Cari de poulet à la Bretonne avec le pilaf de Trois-Grain recipe. Remember to provide finger wipes.
Ola's Homard avec la sauce de crème
2 live Lobsters (800 grams each)
2 desset spoons Olive Oil
100 grams Butter
6 medium Shallots ( 80 grams when chopped)
4 large dessertspoons of thick Crème Fraîche
1 large glass of Muscadet (20 cl)
2-3 dessertspoons of a good Cognac
1 dessertspoon Veal Stock granules
1 heaped dessertspoon Cornflour
! dessertspoon Butter
This time, having killed your lobster, cut it into 4 pieces, saving the interesting bits for later. Now gently cook the shallots in a small saucepan with 100 grams of butter over a low heat until they are transparent (10 minutes). Now heat some Olive Oil in a pan over a high heat, when very hot add the lobster pieces. Cook them quickly on all sides, moving them around the pan until the shells turn red. Add Cognac and Fambé – careful now, I did warn you about this in another recipe!!!
Sprinkle on Cayenne pepper, sea-salt and pepper then add shallots, wine and veal stock, and stir. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lobster with a strainer spoon, lay it out on a serving dish and keep warm over a low heat.
Filter the stock from the pan, return to the heat and reduce slightly. Bind the sauce with a spoonful of softened butter, cornflour and the "interesting bits" from earlier. Stir until thick - do NOT allow it to boil. Now add creme and adjust the seasoning.
Pour the sauce over the lobster and serve immediately with rice - the recipe can be found here: Cari de poulet à la Bretonne avec le pilaf de Trois-Grain recipe
Lobster, Chestnut Pili and Thongweed
500 g lobster
50g chestnut pili
25g thongweed (sea spaghetti)
150 ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon of Cognac
400 ml single (pouring) cream
Cook the chestnut pili in the chicken stock. Set aside. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Immerse the lobster pincers and tail for two minutes. Leave to cool and shell. Roughly chop the lobster head and fry in a little oil. Add the shallot and deglaze with Cognac. Add the cream and reduce gently to obtain 150 ml of sauce. Finish cooking the lobster in an oven heated to 250°C, 5 minutes for the tail and 2minutes for pincers. Season. Add the thongweed to the chestnut pili.
Arrange the chestnut pili in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with hazelnut oil. Arrange the tail and pincers. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish with some herbs2 minutes for pincers. Season. Add the thongweed to the chestnut pili.
Arrange the chestnut pili in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with hazelnut oil. Arrange the tail and pincers. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish with some herbs.