Whole lobster

How To Prepare Lobster at Home: Tips and Tricks from Our Chefs!

Even we'll admit getting into a lobster is tricky business...

Lobster. The mere mention of its name conjures images of fine dining and celebratory meals, delicious butter and lemon sauces, and perfectly red exteriors.

 But this prized delicacy wasn't always seen as a delicacy. Believe it or not, lobster was once considered food for commoners and even used as prison food.

Over time, discerning palates began to appreciate the lobster's sweet, succulent flesh, and with growing scarcity, it soon became sought after across the world. Today, lobster remains a luxurious indulgence, and proper preparation is key to unlocking its full potential. By understanding the best cooking methods and techniques, you can enjoy this delightful dish at home and wow your guests with your culinary powers. 

Selecting the Right Lobster:

If you’re asking yourself, how is lobster prepared? You’ll need to start at the very beginning and selecting the perfect lobster is just the first step toward crafting an exceptional meal. When choosing a live lobster, look for lively creatures with active claws and antennae that flick readily. A firm shell and a tucked-under tail (not fanned out) indicate freshness. Avoid lobsters with missing limbs, discoloured shells, or sluggish movement – these are signs of a past-their-prime crustacean.

How to Prepare a Lobster Preparing Lobster for Cooking:

It’s easy to look at a delicious lobster on your plate and not ask yourself how lobster is prepared. So allow us to tell you some of the steps. 

Humanely subdue the lobster: While there's no universally agreed-upon method for humane lobster death, chilling is considered a more passive approach. Place the live lobster in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, numbing it before cooking.

Other cooking methods include plunging the live lobster into boiling water and boiling it for 15 minutes. The reason we cook lobsters live is because when lobsters die, they release toxins and other harmful bacteria that can ruin the cooking method and make you sick.

Secure the claws (optional):  Lobster claws can inflict a painful pinch. To prevent this, use kitchen twine or rubber bands to secure the claws close to the body.

Clean the lobster: Briefly rinse the lobster under cold running water. Avoid soaking it, as this can affect the flavour.

Remove the band (if used):  Once subdued, carefully remove the twine or rubber bands from the claws.

Begin your desired cooking method. 

How to Store Live Lobsters? 

While it's best to cook lobster as soon as possible to enjoy its peak flavour and texture, there are times when you might need to store it for a day or two. Here's how to keep your live lobster happy and healthy until it's time for cooking. 

Storage essentials:
Lobsters thrive in cool, moist environments. Aim for a temperature around 4°C. Avoid freezing them entirely as this will kill them.
Lobsters need to breathe. Don't use airtight containers or plastic bags. Opt for a colander placed over a bowl of ice (not directly in the ice) or a large pot lined with damp paper towels or seaweed.
The coldest part of your fridge is the ideal location for your lobster when waiting to cook. 

Storage time:
Under these conditions, your live lobster can survive for  24-36 hours. However, the sooner you cook it, the better the quality of the meat.

Signs of a less fresh lobster:
Listless movement or limp claws
Discoloured shell (brownish or black)
A strong ammonia smell
A fanned-out tail (should be tucked under)

Removing Lobster Claw For Cooking?

Whether to remove the claws before cooking depends on your preference and cooking method. Here's a breakdown of both options:

Claws On:
Presentation: Leaving the claws intact creates a beautiful, whole lobster presentation, perfect for a special occasion.
Flavour: Some believe cooking the lobster with the claws imparts a richer flavour to the body meat, in which case you’ll want to keep them on. 

Claws Off:
Convenience: Removing the claws allows for easier handling and even cooking, especially for methods like boiling.
Faster cooking: Claws often take longer to cook than the body, so removing them can ensure everything cooks evenly.
Removing the claws (without wasting meat):
Locate the joint where the claw connects to the body. Twist the claw gently but firmly, and then pull it away from the body.
Use lobster crackers or a heavy knife to crack the claw shell without crushing the meat inside.
Use a lobster pick or a small fork to gently remove the sweet, succulent flesh from the shell.

Remember: Don't discard the claw shells! They can be used to make a flavorful lobster stock for bisques or sauces. 

Lobster and sauce on a plate on a laid table
Sauce being poured on a lobster with asparagus
Sauce being poured on a lobster

Removing Lobster Tail For Cooking?

The lobster tail is an incredibly prized portion, so if you’d like to cook it separately, removing it efficiently is key. Here's how to do it without sacrificing any delicious meat:

Locate the tail joint: Find the small, V-shaped notch where the tail connects to the body cavity.
Separate the tail: Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through this joint. Some prefer to twist the tail slightly while cutting for a cleaner separation.
Remove the tail fan: Flip the tail over and identify the fan-like flippers on the underside. Use kitchen shears or a sturdy knife to cut through the base of each flipper and discard them.
Split the tail (optional): For easier cooking and meat removal, you can split the tail lengthwise through the top shell.

Removing the meat: There are two main methods:
"New England" style: Insert a skewer or lobster pick lengthwise down the centre of the tail, running it through the vein (a dark, sandy line). This helps remove the vein and loosens the meat from the shell.
Pulling technique: With the tail split or whole, wedge a lobster pick or knife tip between the flesh and the shell at the thick end. Gently twist and pull the meat away from the shell in strips.

Seasoning and Flavoring Lobster:

Now you know how lobster is prepared, you’ll want to match the tender, succulent meat with the perfect flavour accompaniments. Lobster boasts a naturally sweet and delicate flavour that shines when simply cooked. However, a touch of well-chosen seasoning can certainly elevate it. 

Here's a guide to unlocking the full flavour potential of your lobster:

The traditional trio of butter, lemon, salt, and pepper remains a timeless and foolproof way to season lobster. Here's why it works:

Butter: Rich and luxurious, butter adds a touch of creaminess and enhances the sweetness of the lobster flesh.

Lemon: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice cuts through the richness and adds a touch of acidity, creating a perfect flavour balance.

Salt and Pepper: These basic seasonings draw out the natural flavours of the lobster and create mouthwatering depth.

Beyond the basics

For those seeking to explore beyond the classics, don’t be shy to go slightly bolder.

Garlic butter: Infuse melted butter with fresh garlic, minced shallots, or even roasted garlic cloves for a more complex and savoury flavour.

Herb-infused oils: Olive oil infused with fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme, or chives adds a touch of elegance and a burst of fresh flavour.

Spicy marinades: For a bolder kick, consider a quick marinade with a splash of sriracha, chilli flakes, or smoked paprika.

The perfect pairing

Complementary flavours elevate your lobster experience. You’ll likely know some of the best choices from experience. Citrus flavours and delicate white wine are often the favourite choices. However, we’ve also included a little more detail below:

Citrus: The bright acidity of lemon, lime, or grapefruit complements the sweetness of lobster beautifully.

Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, dill, tarragon, and chives add a touch of freshness and complexity.

Garlic: Aromatic garlic adds a savoury depth that pairs wonderfully with lobster.

Wine pairings: Depending on your chosen seasonings, consider a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a buttery Chardonnay, or a refreshing Pinot Grigio to complement the meal.