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What Was In My Wife's Lobster??

Hey Hounds.

Last night we had lobsters for dinner. Fresh steamed in my kitchen of course.
Anyway, when my wife tore the body from the tail, she found this huge black....thing... inside it. It ran most of the length of the thorax and just into the tail.

Any idea of what it was??

It was boy lobster if that's any help.


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  1. Doggone it, just when I had almost worked up enough nerve to eat my first lobster in 53 years of life on this earth....

    Did she eat it?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jimmy Buffet

      She ate the lobster. No problems. Tasted great.
      It was like a large black liver or something.

      JB you should just go ahead and try one. They're awesome. Nothing like a food fresh as it can possibly be.


      1. re: Davwud

        I just have a hard time getting past the fact that they are more than kissin' cousins to insects.

    2. Hmmm...definitely a male lobster, huh?

      I've seen black jelly-like stuff when I've parboiled a female lobster with roe or "coral" (this turns red when it is fully cooked).

      4 Replies
      1. re: Rubee

        It didn't have the feathery legs thingies. They were the harder spikier ones.
        Perhaps it had a full stomach of something.
        It didn't affect that taste and it was some sort of sac or something. You could remove it all in one piece.


        1. re: Davwud

          This is so curious, I'm intrigued. Yep, definitely a male.

          The stomach/head sac/grain sac is found behind the lobster's eyes/mouth, so that couldn't be it. Not the liver/tomalley because that is green.

          Maybe some unusual blockage of the thin tube-like digestive tract/intestine, since a "huge black thing" like a sac is different than a dark vein. But then again, the intestine runs all the way down the tail, not "the length of the thorax and just into the tail". Hmm...

          1. re: Rubee

            definitely poop...sorry to say it.

            1. re: bac528

              that's what I was going to say... you know, like shrimp.

      2. Q: What is the black vein in the tail and should you remove it before you eat the tail?

        A: The black vein in the tail is the intestine, which is part of the digestive system. Even though it will not harm you, yes you should remove it before you eat the tail.

        1. Are you sure it was a male lobster, because the roe in female lobsters will be bright orange-red and firm when cooked. If it is a dark greenish-black, with an oily tar-like consistency, the lobster is under cooked.

          1. Sounds like some sort of digestive sac...it was waste material!!

            1. To use the Louisiana colloquial term for the analagous structure found in a crawfish, it was the "poo vein". Yes, I said it. All she found was the digestive tract.

              1. D

                Looks like its just a vein. Several websites reported that answere but here is a link to a website and hopefully is correct:


                "Using a sharp knife, slice the lobster down the middle (easiest to cut legs side up). Remove the black vein from the tail, the greenish tomalley from the body and the sand sac located near the head. Baste the lobster meat with some oil or melted butter."

                3 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  Except the OP described it as a "huge, black...thing", and it looked like "some sort of sac". ?

                  1. re: Rubee

                    When jfood cleans shrimp and removes the digestive track mrs jfood says "what are those things?" Will await to hear from D on whether it looked like a sac or a vein.

                    1. re: jfood

                      That's why I'm so curious - above DT did say

                      "It didn't affect that taste and it was some sort of sac or something"

                2. I am surprised that only the poster and none of the postees- thus far - has had this experience. I have had the "black goop" surprise at least 20 times. It has nothing to do with cooking time. Roe is red, liver is green. This is black as squid ink, and a volume equal to a ping pong ball, in a 2 pounder. Whatever sac it had been contained in is torn apart when the tail is twisted off from the body, and the goop is loose. I just scrape it off from the strands of the tail with the dull side of a knife. No doubt it is unpooped poop. Hey, we eat clams and oysters without the luxury of separating tomorrow's fertilizer. The most unsavory aspect is that this season, you have paid at least $16.50 a pound for a Maine lobster.

                  55 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    We parboil lobsters often (about 5-1/2 minutes for a 2-pounder) for baked stuffed, pan-roasted with cognac sauce (my favorite Jasper White recipe), Newburg, lobster thermidor, etc. If it is a female and there are unfertilized eggs, it is an inky-black or sometimes greenish-black, jelly-like substance that only turns red when it and the lobster is fully cooked. I scrape out this black stuff, and use it to flavor the butter or cream sauce over low heat, which then turns pink.

                    Oddly enough, this post, even with this talk of black goop, has made me decide to go out and pick up a couple of lobsters for dinner tonight. ; )

                    1. re: Rubee

                      My cooking rule of thumb is 3 minutes for the first pound, 2 minutes for each additional pound. (After the water returns to a boil). And I deal with red, green, and black, as the cards are dealt. My mother loves the red and the green. The black? Her momma didn't raise no stupid children.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Hey, us New Englanders take our lobster (and I my intelligence) very seriously.

                        Your cooking time explains it - 5 minutes for a 2-lb lobster is not fully cooked. I boil a 2-lb lobster in heavily salted water for 14-15 minutes.


                        A Guide To Lobster 'Stuff' By Color
                        Black Stuff - An uncooked or undercooked female lobster may be harboring eggs, also known as roe or lobster caviar. These eggs prior to cooking appear thick, shiny and black, and may be found throughout the tail. If you have cooked your lobster and still see the black stuff, cook them longer and the black stuff will turn into...
                        Red Stuff - Once the above mentioned female lobster is fully cooked, those eggs turn bright red in color.

                        (though OP's lobster was male so this wasn't it).


                        1. re: Rubee

                          Rubee, I hoped that science would trump my ignorant hunch about the black stuff, but I remain stubborn in my ignorance. Why is it always either all red and firm, or all black and oozy, and never in between? (actually, the black has a hint of dark green as I scrape off the last vestiges from the tail). I have eaten hundreds if not a thousand lobsters in part because they are as easy to cook as a hard boiled egg. Your cooking time seems like a lot, and lobster gets tough if overcooked. But it works for you. I cannot imagine what sort of metamorphosis would befall my black goop if I let it cook a little longer.
                          P.S. I'm a transplanted New Englander, so we're on the same side here:) But we all suffer from sticker shock this year.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            I hear ya re: sticker shock - Yikes, I heard $31 for a lobster roll at B & G.

                            Actually, my husband just walked over to J. Hook to get us our lobsters. It will be interesting to see what we get (female with roe, a dark thick intestinal tract, etc). I'll take pics in the name of CH research.

                            (BTW - my lobster bible is Jasper White's "Lobster at Home" - the information, cooking tips, times, guidelines, and diagrams in the Lobster Primer section takes up the first 40 pages alone. Highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good lobster cookbook. It has all the classic recipes from lobster stew to Newburg, but also contributions from various chefs like Robuchon, Puck, Bayless, Kinkead, Bouloud, etc. I've probably made half the recipes from the book, and they've all been winners).

                            Previous CH discussion (along with baked stuffed recipe I'm making tonight)


                            1. re: Rubee

                              90% of the time, you won't have the green-red-black surprises, especially this early in the season. Buen provecho!
                              I usually get deleted when I offer up factoids, but I'll try one more time. In the 1700's until the civil war, slave owners in South Carolina had a gentleman's agreement not to feed lobsters to slaves more than four meals a week, because they were considered to be trash food.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                I must ask: Where did slave owners in South Carolina get these lobsters? Off the Charleston coast? Those are not lobsters, any more than the ones caught and served in Florida.

                                Crayfish, perhaps, but not lobsters...

                                1. re: mardy

                                  Spiny lobsters and langostinos have broad definitions, and ranges. In Australia, ask about "morton bay bugs" and you'll also get a wide range of input. You have hurt some feelings in Florida...but we heel... like ..lobsters.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    I am in Florida. And what is sold as "lobster" around the state is not what is widely known to be lobster. Vacationing Floridians who eat lobster along the New England coast are pleasantly surprised.

                                    Which is why they spend large $$$ to have the real item shipped south...

                                  2. re: mardy

                                    Maine lobster, also called the American lobster, grow as far south as North Carolina.


                                    1. re: JMF

                                      From what I understand, the colder the water, the better the meat.
                                      If that's true, they can't be all that good.


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        You are correct. Lobsters caught off Rhode Island's coast don't seem as flavorful as those caught further north off Maine's coast.

                                        I've eaten a lot of lobster over the decades, and would not bother with those caught in the warmer waters south of Cape Cod.

                                        Nor would I order swordfish in a Kansas restaurant....

                                        1. re: mardy

                                          We're fortunate to get NS and NF lobsters here (TO). Not only that, if you pick them up at THE market, a lobster bought on Friday was most likely swimming in the Atlantic on Wednesday.


                                  3. re: Veggo

                                    My research indicated that this anecdote pertained to Massachusetts (Yes, there were slaves there too) and it also applied to prison inmates and indentured servants.

                                    1. re: thinks too much

                                      My Port Clyde buddy, who is a bit of a history buff, volunteered that there was a prisoner revolt in Maine during the 1850's, for having been served too many lobsters. He also said the price at the dock today is back up to the $8-9/lb. range.

                                  4. re: Rubee

                                    We went to Hooks on Sunday...prices have come way down in the last few week..1 1/2 lb are 11/lb..larger are $12/lb..also live and kicking softe shell crabs.

                                    I steam 3-3 1/2 lb about 25 mins.

                                    1. re: 9lives

                                      Yep - 2-lbs + going for 11.99 a pound.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Yessir - that's my babies!!! (YYYYYUUUUUMMMMMM)

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Here are the 'after' pics ; ) (BTW, they were both male)


                                    2. re: Veggo

                                      "When cutting a cooked lobster tail lengthwise, we can sometimes see a large red line. Those are the ovaries with unfertilized eggs. They can be eaten. Sometimes, there's a black slimy substance. This is due to egg resorption. Those are eggs that were about to be laid when the female was caught. Instead of being laid, they were liquefied. The vitello-proteins contained in the eggs were re-circulated in the blood, giving it a black color. It is not very appetizing but the lobster is good nevertheless. It simply needs to be rinsed."


                                      1. re: QueenB

                                        I like it. Anything but poop. I wonder if the trauma of being trapped causes a natural change to the egg laying/development process, or if it occurs anyway anywhere. Marine biologist- hounds, please weigh in.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Not a marine biologist, but I highly recommend the book: The Secret Life of Lobsters. Also, the authors web-site is great: www.thesecretlifeoflobsters.com

                                      2. re: Veggo

                                        "Your cooking time seems like a lot, and lobster gets tough if overcooked. "

                                        Yes, I've been cooking lobster for 20 years, so actually have had a lot of practice. Believe me, raised in Massachusetts and eating it and cooking it as often as I have (and eating out just as frequently), tough lobster does not appeal to me. I do remove the dark vein/intestinal tract, and never overcook it. Contrary to your insistence, I do not serve friends and family overcooked tough stringy lobster accompanied by pink poop. ; )

                                        I'm just trying to explain what you said earlier, that you were "surprised that only the poster and none of the postees- thus far - has had this experience. I have had the "black goop" surprise at least 20 times. It has nothing to do with cooking time. Roe is red, liver is green."

                                        But since your technique is 5 minutes for a 2-lb lobster - under-cooking your lobster has everything to do with it. When I've boiled a 2-lb lobster for only 5 minutes and it's a female with unfertilized eggs, the roe is ALWAYS black. The intestinal track that runs down the length of the tail appears usually as a dark vein and different from a green-black mass of 'jelly' mostly located in the thorax. Quick way to tell - roe turns red and firm when it's cooked. Nothing wrong with the fact that you prefer your lobster with "gelatineous sweet translucence"- However, that lobster is not fully cooked, and it's not long enough to cook all the roe.

                                        "Roe (found in some female lobsters) will be bright red and firm. If it is black and oily the lobster is undercooked."


                                        The reason I've seen it so often is because I make a lot of dishes using under-cooked/partially cooked lobster, and then finishing in the oven, sauces, pasta, etc.

                                        Of course, this doesn't explain the OP's lobster, but explains why you see that so often if you cook yours for such a short time.

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Not to mention, if you like to eat the tomalley, it would still be black and inedible if undercooked, right?

                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            Rubee, I defer to your knowledge of the subject. But I don't see how 10 more minutes in the pot will turn tar into rose petals. I guess it's one of those Tom Petty things you can never explain, like an angel in tears, or a runaway train.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              LOL. This summer I'll have to take before after pics......

                                            2. re: Rubee

                                              I had an e-mail from Madagascar with a message that nothing with "gelatineous sweet translucence" is there. Gives one pause. I think I will water all the plants first thing tomorrow, and say a little prayer.

                                          2. re: Rubee

                                            I'm more on the same page as Rubee. 5 minutes for a 2 lb lobster is a bit undercooked. I usually buy lobsters about 1 3/4 lb and cook them in between 10-12 minutes and they are not overcooked at all.

                                          3. re: Veggo

                                            For a standard lobster - we're not talkin' crawfish heah - you need to at least triple that cooking time. Lessin' you're making sushi.

                                            1. re: Niblet

                                              I would move mountains for sushi, were they not so heavy. There is a critical moment during the cooking time line for tuna, lobster, pompano, boquinette, swordfish, shrimp, and others, where the flesh loses its delicious gelatineous sweet translucence and becomes a stringy, opaque mass of bland whiteness. Just my opinion.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                I'm way on the same page with Rubee and beetlebug here ... and 10-12 min for a 2/2.5 lb-er, easy.
                                                Not quite sure about the OP.
                                                (As an aside ...
                                                Omaru-ebi (Maine lobster),
                                                Ise-Ebi ( spiny lobster, similar to Caribbean),
                                                Uchiwa-ebi (slipper lobster - Morten Bay Bugs)

                                                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                  4, 1 1/4 lb boys steamed for about 10 minutes.
                                                  It sounds to me like a lot of you cook yours less that I do but I've been told, 8 mins/lb. I've had no complaints.


                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                    At that weight and timing I usually follow-up with additional, brief, cooking.
                                                    I've cracked the thorax of such beasts and have pulled partially "set" roe.
                                                    I usually like to get "Maine"s between Father's Day and the 4th, before they molt.

                                                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                      While we're on the subject, what's the deal with hard-shell lobsters? They're so damn hard to crack, we use hammers!!! Where we live in Southern California, it's hard to tell what the hard-shell and soft-shell seasons are. I'd like to never get a hard-shell again - for you Hounders back east, what is the best way to ensure that?

                                                      1. re: aurora50

                                                        Once I had to carry the lobster out to my front steps to pound away at it with a hammer. Didn't want to risk damaging my counter or kitchen floor.

                                                        1. re: aurora50

                                                          Lordy, keep that hammer and be glad to have the need for it. Hard shell means the critter has had a chance to bulk up in it's new, larger home, and the flesh is so much firmer, and more of it. Soft shell, generally toward the end of summer when they molt again, the claws are mostly filled with liquid and the mushy flesh can be a third of the customary mass. My friend in Maine was explaining to me why lobsters have been more scarce since winter- the cold water currents have been much further off shore, and the warmer water "tricks" the lobsters into molting prematurely. Trust me just this once- hard shell is what you want.

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            You're "on the beam" here ...
                                                            ... turn those hard-shells on their back and with a "good" kitchen knife you're set.

                                                              1. re: slacker

                                                                Turn it over and use the back side of your chefs knife to break it open. It'll leave a long thing hole it it. Do it both sides.
                                                                All that said, I've only seen it demonstrated. I use channel locks.


                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                      A diligent answer to an innocent question, but somehow I am laughing uncontrollably that it came to this.When we set the table, do these go above the soupspoon, or to the right of the butter knife? I'll google Emily.

                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                        At Alton Brown's table, they go on the inside of the "C" clamp for opening nuts.


                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                          Actually, that really might not be a bad idea for the lobster - I'm really considering buying one and keeping it just for that purpose!!

                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                            For as many stone crab claws as I eat, I suppose by now I should have some device a little more table-friendly than a claw hammer, but it sure does work!

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              What's a claw hammer, now??? ; P LOL!!!
                                                                              You're right, this is funny!!!

                                                                              1. re: aurora50

                                                                                Yo! Davwud! We need a little more help here with your camera and your toolbox! If one goes with the "concussion" method of the hammer, rather than the "squeeze" method of the channel lock, one should place a small towel over the item to be whacked, forming it around the hump of the target area, to control the flyaway shells and splatter from an "overstrike". When one correctly evaluates the formidability of the shell strength, and calibrates the exact force of the blow required, and delivers it so that the shell is broken but the meat is not smashed in the process, one enjoys a warm, fleeting moment of accomplishment. This thread is wandering somewhere between This Old House, and a Mark Bittman demonstration:)

                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                  I also have a small pair of needle nose pliers for picking pin bones out of salmon steaks.


                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                    That would be the Channellock #326 which I use for grouper cheeks. Your photo was, for different purposes, of course, the Channellock #430. My preferred tool for whacking both lobster claws and stone crab claws, is the basic Channellock plier #349, second to the claw hammer. I know this sounds goofy, but if anyone can ever find fault with the facts in any of my posts, I will buy every hound a beer.

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      What fault??
                                                                                      The right tool always makes the job easier.


                                                              2. re: Veggo

                                                                Thanks, that's good to know. Still have the hammer.

                                                              3. re: aurora50

                                                                Hi Aurora!

                                                                I think the season for soft-shells is late June through early September.

                                                                (Also, if anyone is interested in shipping, soft-shells have a higher mortality rate.....)

                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                  By the way.. your dinner looked delicious. Remind your husband that if he ever "stubs his toe", if you will, others are lined up to step into his shoes:)!

                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                    Thanks guys, for the hard-shell/soft-shell info. I guess I should be glad -- although the claws are still be a son-of-a-b___tch to crack --

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      Late last summe in New England, select size hard shells were going for $10-11/lb. Soft shells were about $6/lb and not worth it..imo

                                                                      If I'm serving lobster indoors, I'll generally crack the claws in the kitchen..back of a chef's knife or a Chinese cleaver..also food for separating the knuckles..first wrap the claw in a towel to keep the splatter down.

                                                                      The channellock works well also; and I use that if I don't have the other tools handy..especially on larger lobsters with thicker shells.

                                                  2. While we're on the subject, does anyone out there eat the tomalley?

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: jackrugby

                                                      Absolutely. The tomalley is great! I'm always so disappointed when my lobster has little tomalley in it.

                                                      1. re: jackrugby

                                                        I do, but I think it's definitely a matter of personal taste. I crave the whole lobster (except, of course, for the poop!) and I eat everything and anything I can, including tomalley, roe, legs, the body --I'd eat the shell if I could!!! ; )

                                                        1. re: aurora50

                                                          Absolutely. Tomalley is considered a delicacy. I know the very term delicacy brings to mind some very odd foodstuffs from different cultures, many such delicacies I'd never go near. But lobster tomalley is delicious and since I'm not innately averse to the concept of eating it, I savor every bit when I'm lucky enough to get a fair amount.

                                                          1. re: laylag

                                                            I've never made it, but there is a recipe in "Lobster at Home" for "Tomalley Toasts" with tomalley butter - toasted baguette slices spread with a mixture of tomalley, garlic, butter, parsley and chives, baked a few minutes until bubbling. Sounds good, doesn't it?

                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                Sounds incredible but making it means I'd actually have to save up the tomalley and not devour it immediately. A challenge...

                                                        2. Yes, I'm the dork looking up lobster anatomy.

                                                          Anyway, I believe what you saw was stomach. And a full one, at that. Take a look at these diagrams:

                                                          The intestine runs the length of the tail to the anus. There is a second stomach attached to the intestine, and I'm thinking if the lobster ate recently, perhaps this is what you saw?

                                                          1. Thanks Hounds.

                                                            I went into this feeling that it was just a full tummy or a back up in the intestinal tract. Most seem to confirm this.
                                                            It WAS NOT ROE as this creature was a male. Either that or a freak of nature.
                                                            It WAS COOKED as were the others. All delicious I might add.

                                                            And for those of you lamenting the cost of the bugs. The local Dominion grocery store had a mothers day weekend special on. $7.99/lb. Treated my mom to lobster dinner.


                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                              Well, yeah, it was poop. That's why lobsters sit in tanks in restaurants for a few days. So they purge themselves. Of course if they get they hungry enough... they'll eat a weak lobster. It's put my sister off lobster forever. She works in a seafood place.

                                                              1. re: bryan

                                                                Yeah, they'll cannibalize each other if they get the chance. More than once, I've seen some munching on a recently deceased compadre in our neighborhood store's tank. We alert the seafood man to remove the offending (dead) guy.

                                                            2. I just phoned my old bud in Port Clyde, Maine, who runs a few hundred traps. He said the cold water currents were much further offshore this past winter, and that bait/ fuel /travel time were more onerous than ever. Conditions are correcting as we speak, and the price at the dock is $6/ lb. today. Bodes well (at least better) for we crustacean eaters this summer!

                                                              1. Wouldn't that be the intestines and stomach? I must have only had girl lobsters.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: sdoby22

                                                                  Why, because you've only had roe? Incidentally, not to insult anyone, but we do know how to tell the difference between boy and girl lobsters, right? If anyone does not know, I'm sure us "lobster people" would be glad to share the info!

                                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                                    Female lobster generally are wider in the upper dorsal tail region. This allows room in the tail to store the premature eggs. Females can also be distinguished by their soft, thin set of first pleopods (swimmerets). Males have a hard, thicker set of first pleopods, and have smaller hard appendages (masculina) attached to their second set of pleopods.