See also shellfish.
off the northern Atlantic coast, Maine lobsters are known for their
heavy front claws, which are full of succulent, snow white meat.
This king of the crustacean family has a jointed body and limbs covered
with a hard shell. The edible sweet flesh is found in the claws,
knuckles and tail.
Like fowl, male lobsters are known as cocks and
females as hens. Though whole lobsters are best simply boiled or broiled
meat may also be steamed
, baked or grilled into a number of classic recipes like Lobster Newburg
or Lobster Thermidor
Lobster was once so plentiful it was used for fish bait. It didn't make
its popular (and pricey) presence at the dinner table until the end of
the 19th century.
Also called American lobster
, this is the most popular variety in the
United States. Maine lobsters have five pairs of legs, including a set
of large, heavy front claws that contain a good amount of meat. They
are found off the Atlantic coast in Canada and the northern U.S.
Also called rock lobster
and sea crayfish
, this variety's
shell is covered with sharp spines and long antennae. With 10 legs of
about the same size and no claws, most of the meat comes from the tail.
Firmer and less sweet than Maine lobsters, spiny lobsters are found in
waters off Florida, Southern California, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand
and South Africa.
Lobsters are categorized into the following sizes:
—over 2½ pounds
(Select)—1½ to 2½ pounds
—1¼ to 1½ pounds
—1 1/8 to 1¼ pounds
—about 1 pound
Choose lobsters that are active—when picked up
the tail should curl under the body. Also be sure to ask your retailer
when the lobsters were caught. Fresh-caught ones will be much more
succulent than those that have been sitting at the market for a week or
Whole lobsters should have curled tails (a sign that they were alive when cooked). The meat should be white and sweet-smelling.
Make sure the package is in tact, with no signs of frost. The meat should be free of dry spots.
Live lobsters should be bought the same day they're to be cooked. Keep
them wrapped in a wet cloth and stored on a bed of ice in the
refrigerator for no more than a few hours.
Lobsters must be cooked alive or killed immediately before cooking
(which is considered more humane). To do this, chill the lobster in the
refrigerator for several hours, which makes the lobster less sensitive.
Then kill it by either splitting in lengthwise across the back or by
plunging a knife tip behind the head in the middle of the back.
• Lobster is done when the shell turns vivid red and the meat turns opaque.
• To keep lobster tails from curling, insert a skewer lengthwise through the mid