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Dispatching live lobsters?

No denying it: many lobster dishes are best made with the raw meat from a freshly killed lobster.

Problem is, killing them is always something of a traumatic experience. Yes, they're just big bugs. Yes, their nervous systems are primitive and decentralized compared with ours. Yes, from the lobster's viewpoint there's not much difference between being chopped up live and being dropped into a pot of boiling water. Still, whenever I've done it, I've felt (to paraphrase Alice B. Toklas) like I need to sit down and have a smoke while waiting for the police to arrive and haul me off to the slammer.

And even when I've set my squeamishness aside and done the dastardly deed, it doesn't always work as advertised. Insert the knife behind the head to quickly deliver the coup de grâce? Last time I tried, far from dropping dead the beast did an "et tu, Brute" number, rearing up in outrage and writhing in pain. A second stab didn't help. I covered her with a wok lid, set a pot of water to boil and, plams sweating, retired to the office, a retreat punctuated by the sound of claws banging against metal. Other times, the stab behind the head seemed to work... until I started splitting the corpses, that is. Is there anything more Twilight Zone than a deceased half lobster wildly waving its flippers for five minutes after you've split it? (See "decentralized nervous system" above.)

Delicious, sweet, fresh, local Gaspé lobsters are in season. A serious foodie friend has invited me over for a lobster feast on Saturday. Most of the dishes we're considering -- stuffed with tarragon butter and roasted, stir-fried with ginger and garlic, roasted and served with a vin jaune and walnut oil sauce -- call for raw meat from freshly killed lobsters.

What to do? Could we stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to numb them? Should we wimp out and try one of Keller's tricks and parboil them (place in a pot, pour boiling water over, let sit for two minutes)? Or if we screw up our courage and butcher them live, is there any surefire way of sparing them and us the agony?

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  1. Now I know exactly why I have never attempted this myself. You have summarized my exact feelings and thoughts in a way I never could have. Thank you carswell. Sorry I can't help you but I really enjoyed the read. Good luck with your project. Me? I'll continue to satisfy my cravings at a restaurant.

    4 Replies
    1. re: millygirl

      I haven't had problems with a stab and pull method. The knife (10" chef) is pulled back after the stabbing, and the beast is halved, all the way to the tail end. There may be a few palpitations but it is clearly dead. Possibly stabbing and pulling the knife through the thorax will also work, but I have always split the lobster down the centre.

      Can you refresh me on how to choose a female lobster?

      1. re: jayt90

        Look at the first set of swimmerettes (little flippers) at the top of the tail. If larger, hard and bony, it's a male. If smaller and soft, it's a female. See www.bayleys.com/bayleys-news-blog.php for a pic.

        That said, I knew my lobster that would not die was a female because she was full of roe.

        1. re: jayt90

          I do something similar, but stab with a cleaver about an inch behind the eyes and cut the head in half before splitting the rest of it. It wiggles around for a bit, but not for very long. It really kinda freaked me out the first five or six times I did it, but it hardly phases me any longer. I just keep thinking how good it will taste and . . . whack! whack!

      2. The freezer trick works pretty well, but I'm not sure it'll work for you if you're trying to harvest raw meat. I've only done it once, but the bugs go into the freezer for about 30 minutes, then directly into a steamer. Supposedly, they're dead pretty quickly - quickly enough that there was NO thrashing. OTOH, they're also cooking, which may not fit with your needs.

        1. Sounds like two blindfolds are needed. However, there's not really any alternative to cold-blooded murder if what you're after is the raw, sweet, delectable flesh.

          1. I have had the shop where I buy lobsters steam them for me for 3 minutes. They are dead but not cooked and it also makes getting the meat out of the shell easier

            1. Twenty minutes in the freezer--puts em to sleep and won't ruin the fresh meat.

              1. The one and only time I cooked lobsters, I froze them for close to an hour, then plunged them head-first into boiling water....they thrashed madly as I flung on the cover and ran from the kitchen! In the decades since, I allow myself one hypocritical restaurant lobster dinner a year.

                1 Reply
                1. re: greygarious

                  I had a very similar experience. I ran out of the kitchen and onto the front porch where I promptly locked myself out of my house. By the time I got back in, the lobster was boiled beyond recognition. I saw an episode of Andrew Zimmern's show last year where they ate a langostine live and it all came back to me. No thanks. Hypocrisy is underrated.

                2. I"m not even from the Maritimes! I cook them all the time and use the old fashioned, head first into boiling water method. I only cook one at a time because my pot will only fit one. They don't thrash about. I can't imagine putting it in the freezer and still having it thrash about - you must watch too many scary movies! If kept in the fridge until cooking, they are not very active at that temperature. Once they are in the water, game over. Gosh, not much different than boiling eggs;)

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: sarah galvin

                    Yes, but freezing and boiling is bound to affect the flesh (and I'm not gibbering about this).

                    1. re: mrbozo

                      The idea is not to freeze but to stun the animal by chilling it to just above the freezing point. In theory, the flesh isn't frozen and so doesn't suffer.

                    2. re: sarah galvin

                      Actually I gotta be with carswell on this. I used to live in Mass, USA and worked in a branch of a Lobster boat town bank. Once I was offered, just off the boat one clawed lobsters at the price of $2 a piece (yeah it was a few years ago) Big spender me, I got a dozen and paid back my neighbor with a lobster boil that weekend. I placed the lobsters in the refrig overnight and cheerfully took the very sluggish (as in are you alive?) out the next day and cooked them, Huge success! hey this is easy! Did it the 2nd time, and the first lobster I placed in the water, same huge pot, very vigorious boil and that lobster struggled and struggled and and I freaked.
                      They can thrash, I saw it it freaked me and I am very experienced as a cook. Sarah I am not discounting your experience, but know that experiences can vary and yeah you guessed it, I have only eaten lobster once since, in a restaurant and extremely special occasion. Cook them again, never.

                      1. re: sarah galvin

                        Boiling is fine if you want boiled lobster. But, as mentioned at the top of this thread, there are many dishes in which boiled meat produces inferior results and a number in which it shouldn't be used under any circumstances. No French chef worth his salt would use boiled lobster to make a sautéed dish like *homard à l'américaine* (or a split broiled lobster for that matter); every Chinese cook I know chops the live lobster just before she drops it into the wok; the best lobster salads incorporate a reduction sauce made from the raw torso (boiled doesn't work here). For the purest tasting, most succulent, sweetest, briniest and most intensely flavoured results, boiling is not the way to go.

                        The ones we'll be buying on Saturday aren't your standard issue lobsters caught months before and kept in a lobster hotel along with tens of thousands of others until they're shipped cross continent and transferred to a fishmonger's tank. These are local bugs, in season only through June and pulled from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence maybe the day before we cook them. It seems a shame, if not an outrage, to use a cooking method that doesn't show them at their best.

                        1. re: carswell

                          Can't pay someone to do it for you? Surely there must be lobster assassins out there, willing to do the job? (BTW I'm NOT offering... I had enough trouble with the teeny weeny live crawfish the other week...)

                          1. re: carswell

                            Then suck it up, carswell! Stun them in the freezer and use your knife! Your only other choice is to boil 'em.

                            1. re: sarah galvin

                              Uh, I plan to. The purpose of my query was to see if anyone knew of a better way to dispatch (= quickly kill, steve h.) them. Sorry to say, you don't. And, no, a knife or boiling aren't the only options: some chefs just rip off the claws and then twist the tail from the torso.

                                1. re: sarah galvin

                                  That's what I would plan. They're freaking bugs with sweet flesh. Kill tehm and eat them, is what I say. With butter.

                                  1. re: sarah galvin

                                    It's uglier than you think. Having been a marine biology major in college I appreciate marine invertebrates in their many forms. I was not long out of school when a guy I knew, who was a butcher and a diver caught a lobster. Before throwing the "bug" (his word, not mine), in boiling water, he twisted the tail off. Even worse, he did it with fiendish glee! The whole incident was so offensive that more than 25 years later, I am still sickened by what I saw.

                                    1. re: carswell

                                      But having thought a little more, with a decentralized nervous system, would it really make a difference?

                                      1. re: carswell

                                        The chefs I worked with used to stick a knife in their neck and then parade around the kitchen holding it up like a trophy. They got quite a kick out of it.

                                  2. re: sarah galvin

                                    Every lobster I've ever cooked has thrashed wildly about for minutes. I must be a sadist. Definitely different than boiling eggs.

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      Different without a doubt! Having an egg thrash around would REALLY bother me!

                                  3. killing, not dispatching, lobsters is not a big deal. deb and i are sailors. we sail the atlantic coast, the bahamas and the eastern caribbean. a chef's knife pointed at the head and angled down toward the tail is very efficient. boiling works, too.

                                    1. There is a technique that - for lack of a better word - "hypnotizes" them. Here's a link:


                                      Most of the meat and fish we eat are killed far less "humanely".
                                      From what I remember most of the muscular movements following "dispatching" a lobster are more to do with physiological stimulation of muscle fibers than a pain or panic reaction on the lobster's part. Think "chicken running around with it's head cut off".

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: Richard 16

                                        oops. Wrong link, but a good one anyway. Here's a more descriptive article:


                                        1. re: Richard 16

                                          This link actually says that "hypnotizing" then makes the thrashing worst : "Researchers believe the best way to minimize the lobster's movement time is to chill/ice it before dropping it in water that has come to a rolling boil. Hypnotizing, slow heating, and steaming increase the length and duration of activity during cooking."

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            Yeah, it does. The OP was looking for an alternative - I should have mentioned that part...

                                            I still do not know if the thrashing is indicative of a "conscious" response to pain (or of the lobster analogue of what we think of as pain) or a post-death muscular reaction.

                                            1. re: Quine

                                              Husband and I each ate a nearly 3 lb lobster a couple of weeks ago. When I brought them home (from Walmart, go figure) I put them in a sink full of cold water. They were completely limp an hour later when I took them out...they had been lively at the store. I stuffed them head-first in boiling water, no thrashing whatsoever. They were delicious.

                                              1. re: danna

                                                Maybe they taste better when they die mellow, like deer!

                                                1. re: danna

                                                  As coll implies, the reason your lobsters were limp when you pulled them out of water is that they were probably dead. No harm, since they were in the water such a short period of time. But you do know you shouldn't do that, don't you?

                                                  I wrap lobsters in wet newspaper and put them in the fridge if I have to keep them overnight. Once, when I had an emergency and couldn't cook them the next day, I kept them two nights--making sure the newspaper remained wet. They weren't as frisky as they had been when I bought them, but they were very definitely still alive.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    well...that explains why they looked dead...they were dead. Glad I didn't know that at the time because I would have worried. so if I had filled the sink w/ salt water it would have been better? How can fresh-water be more deadly than no-water?

                                                    Clearly, i'm lobster-challenged. I WAY underestimated the size of lobster one should choose...i was more than a little worried on the way home with $85 invested in WalMart lobster. ($15/lb...well over 5 lbs) No seafood store in town sold lobster. THEN about the second I dumped those boys in the sink of death, the power went out. I boiled them outside on the side burner of my gas grill, in the pouring rain.

                                                    1. re: danna

                                                      "How can fresh-water be more deadly than no-water?"

                                                      Don't know the answer to that question, but I'll bet someone here does.

                                                      I only know from decades and decades of experience buying and cooking lobsters (beginning when I was in college near the coast of Maine and could buy lobsters off the boat for less than ground round) that it's best not to put lobsters in water at all. If you're going to cook them soon after bringing them home, just leave them on the counter in the bag they came in. If you won't be cooking them for a few hours, just put the bag in the fridge. I do the wet newspaper thing only when I've bought them for cooking the following day.

                                                      1. re: danna

                                                        I don't think you can replicate sea water in your kitchen sink. The tanks at the fish store are professionally cared for. Lobsters live in the ocean so can't live in fresh water, and just like fresh water fish can't live in the ocean.

                                                        You buy them the day you cook them. Keep them wrapped in wet newspaper, allow air into the package (don't tie up in a plastic bag) and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or cooler. The water you boil them in should be 'as salty as the ocean'. You don't want their briny flavour to be drained by plain water.

                                                    2. re: danna

                                                      i fear you may have suffocated them. fresh water is not their natural environment. their gills can't handle tap water. i fear they suffered a slow, painful death using this technique. use the chef knife next time.

                                                      not passing judgment, just giving a little background.

                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                        Slow,painful death? They did not die or suffocate from cold fresh water. They could have been revived if necessary. We have no way of knowing what they felt, if anything.
                                                        But I agree with steve, the knife is a quick, rapid way to subdue a creature wanting to take a chunk out of the cook!

                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                          hi jay,
                                                          my modest take is that the gills can't deal with fresh water. it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and just accumulates. the body swells and the exoskeleton is, well the exoskeleton. it's rigid. lots of nasty pressure building up.
                                                          not sure what the lobster feels but it can't be good.
                                                          i'm with you. a chef's knife works for me.

                                                          1. re: jayt90

                                                            I am not an animal biologist but seem to recall it has something to do with osmosis and is, indeed, fatal.

                                                            1. re: carswell

                                                              I think Carswell is the closest here... It is indeed osmotic related... Lobsters (which are not bugs, they are in fact a different class and sub-phylum -- that's like calling lamprey a snake because it looks similar) like most marine invertebrates are in a sort of equilibrium with their environment -- water! Their exoskeletons are permeable to salt and water... so by putting the little guy in a sink of fresh water you most likely caused a fair number of cells too... well, explode from taking in too much water, thus dispatching said lobster.

                                                    3. re: Richard 16

                                                      Thanks for all the helpful hints. I'm going to try the knife thing this weekend at a banquet for 30 or so... I've seen it done before but not for a while. Richard's point about other less humane ways of killing things we eat all the time is well taken. Most of us just don't see it until it's good and dead - someone else takes on the bad karma for us! Still, I think taking undue glee in the process can't be healthy.

                                                    4. To put them in the freezer for several minutes before killing them is a nice idea. So instead of lancing the brain, you freeze them. I don't mean to be so direct, but if you were lanced with a knife, you would flounce around like a fish on the deck. The pain is gone, but the response is still there. Pierce the brain and be done with it.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: brannondlb

                                                        I'd work on a good 3-day growth of beard, don your best greasy undershirt, crank your favourite thrash metal tunes, and chase the things around the apartment waving a butcher knife with a Lucky Strike dangling from your mouth.

                                                        Or I'd invite this guy to help:

                                                        1. re: andrewm

                                                          ROTFLMAO! That's gonna cost you a monitor and keyboard, to replace the one I just sprayed my drink all over!!!

                                                          1. re: andrewm

                                                            Ha! Lucky Strike. How apropos...

                                                            Should have guessed YouTube would have a whole collection of lobster snuff vids. That chef sure makes quick work of it. The clip's also Exhibit A in the case that the Chinese cleaver is the desert island kitchen tool par excellence.

                                                        2. I have never yet killed a lobster, and after reading this thread I don't know that I will. But you go ahead, carswell. I'm sure it'll be delicious.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: NYCkaren

                                                            I'd steeled myself to the task and was ready to have at them. But I offered my guest the choice of four dishes and he chose the only one that didn't require vivisection. Can't complain as it turned out beautifully, as reported on here www.chowhound.com/topics/524760

                                                          2. I thought they screamed when they boiled? I seem to remember that from my parents' forays into fridge-to-pot lobster murder.

                                                            At the age of 12 on a trip to Maine my cousin and I were so traumatized after the first lobster-cooking incident we freed my parents' night-before-we-left lobsters. Walked them - rubber bands around claws and all - down the rocks to the water and let them go. My poor parents (and poor lobsters!)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: alexajord

                                                              Lobsters have no throats, no vocal cords, and no lungs. The "screaming" is air trapped in the shell that heats up and escapes through holes in the shell.

                                                              1. re: Richard 16

                                                                That audible, high pitched shrill occurs just seconds before the water returns to a boil, and is a convenient reminder to begin timing your cooking interval; I go with 3+1/2 minutes per pound after the boil resumes. Also, that little squeal reminds you to turn down the heat, because your pot will boil over with froth in about 30 seconds if left unattended. Great critters. Delicious, and they come equipped with their own little timing mechanism. (At current prices, they should!)
                                                                For those whose marrow does not have the constitution to extinguish life in any form, sit in another room and ask any of you dining companions to throw the lobsters into the pot or else you plan to order pizza delivered. You'll get a volunteer.

                                                            2. jfood heard from an old loster fisherman many years ago that lobster should be active when you buy them and very active when you kill them. There is some form of a gland that excretes something that sweetens the meat. Now jfood does not know lobster anatomy, but it seems to work.

                                                              So instead of freezing them, he gets them really riled up right before the boiling water or the knife. It may not be that humane, but how is sticking them in a freezer so kind?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                How exactly does one rile up a lobster? Poke it with a stick?

                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                    to avoid nasty-grams from PETA, let's just say it is not that you tickle them ever so slightly under their bellies. :-)

                                                                    And it's very important that the rubber bands remain in place, because when they get riled up, they get really nasty, and rightly so.

                                                                1. I can't believe so many cooks are this squeamish about killing a giant cockroach.

                                                                  I dare say most of you wouldn't fare too well out tuna fishing with me! We don't call it 'bloody decks' for nothing.

                                                                  However, I take a lot of pride in the fact that, when it comes to fresh fish, I know where my fish has been. I caught it, I killed it, I butchered/filleted it and I cooked it. Not much fresher than that.

                                                                  Next time you are about to step on a cricket or a cockroach, remember how squeamish you were about killing his big brother :-)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: meadandale

                                                                    Now that you mention it, I think that's exactly how I learned not to be squeamish about it. I couldn't have been much more than seven or eight years old when my father told me that if I wanted to go fishing with him I was going to have to learn it all, from baiting the hook through getting the fish off the hook and cleaning it and cooking it. Some of the best breakfasts of my life were fresh trout caught moments before, sauteed in butter on an open fire, on our family camping trips.

                                                                  2. LMAO! That is a great post.

                                                                    Well since you need raw meat, what if you just got a cleaver and had it over in with one big wack? I often will put the cleaver right at the head and really hit it hard with mallet. Does the trick.

                                                                    1. I drop them head first into a very large pot of boiling water, otherwise the tail will flip water at you. A wok is not big enough.

                                                                      1. The best way I have found to kill a lobster is force them to listen to a politician. They will be bored to death in no time.
                                                                        A knife or skewer through the base of carapace works well and kills them instantly.
                                                                        Personally I'm not happy unless they scream when I drop them in the pot.
                                                                        Hey if I have to suffer through several more months of political posturing they can suffer as well.


                                                                        1. This post is like a horror movie. I can't even kill a spider. I can't eat crab or lobster since my sister and I watched some sort of national geographic-like special on them, and saw a beach somewhere where there were millions crawling all over themselves. Far too spider like for me. They give me the creeps.

                                                                          When my sister and I were little, she had a friend who used to catch crabs on the beach, make a "thunderdome" like pit, rile them up, and play a game he liked to call "two crabs enter, one crab leaves..." Just slightly disturbing...
                                                                          Perhaps this would work for your lobsters.

                                                                          1. I'd recommend frozen lobster tails, thawed in the fridge. I have a tough time cooking live lobster, too, I've never dismembered them live although I did have one very unpleasant experience watching it (and not on youtube) but I was younger and more impressionable then.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: hsk

                                                                              Most frozen lobster tails are a different species, coming from warm waters. There is really no substitute for the clawed creature.

                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                Most frozen lobster tails are a different species, coming from warm waters.
                                                                                That's partially correct. It is more common to see frozen Maine lobster tails now. Most frozen tails are however of two distinctly different lobsters. Warm water tails from Florida, caribbean, S. America etc. Theese warm water lobster tails are not considered as sweet as Rock Lobster tails from New Zealand, Austrailia or South Africa which are cold water tails. Cold water or Rock Lobsters can be identified by the sharp bottom spines of the abdomen or tail, are reddish in color and are more expensive than the warm water species. The warm water species have distinct spots on the tails and strippping and are a brownish green.

                                                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                                                  You can get Canadian lobster tails, I think they're from Atlantic lobster. They're cheaper (per tail) than carribean lobster because the shells are thicker so the meat/shell ratio is lower.

                                                                                  1. re: hsk

                                                                                    I was going to say, I've never seen a Maine (or Canadian) lobster tail sold frozen. That seems so strange to me.

                                                                              2. I paid for a motor cycle, dive gear, a used mini cooper, a 50 hp outboard motor, a sea of beer, and many a lost night diving for lobsters in my youth. That being said, I hate them with a passion. the best way to dispatch one is the simplest, steaming them live or if grilling, cut in half with a heavy, sharp knife. To this day, I'll cook them but won't eat them.

                                                                                1. Just made them a week ago for lobster rolls. Feel the same as you about cooking them. Read that if you put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, it puts them to sleep so that the plunging into boiling water isn't so bad. It did work and the lobster rolls were delicious

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Doreen

                                                                                    I just cooked two last night; they seemed sleepy but when I picked them up by the tail they both flapped so hard I screamed. But I did my usual thing, just said "Sorry but you have to die now" (I do this with bugs before I kill them too) and plopped them in the pot, anyway they were as tasty as any I ever had (and at $6.99 each/Fathers Day special, they tasted even better!!)

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      You know it really sucks that often one can buy lobster cheaper in New Jersey than we can on the coast of Maine! The Father's Day price was $8.99 per lb. at our local supermarket and the "normal" price is $12.99! I feel like we are in the lobster third world, where the local natural resources are "mined" and shipped out of the country and the locals get stuck.

                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                        I went to school near the coast of Maine and my first two years lobster and steamers were just about the cheapest food you could buy. We gorged. Junior and Senior years the prices skyrocketed and we asked why. We were told, specifically, that they were getting so much money from Chicago restaurants that they were shipping to the Midwest every legal lobster they could get their hands on.

                                                                                        And just fyi, in Manhattan right now--and at Fairway, not at a Chinatown wholesaler--lobsters are $9.99/lb. And that's for any size. Usually we pay at least a $1/lb premium--often more--for larger sizes, but not right now. At least, not this week.

                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                          They now send 747s of lobsters daily, out of Bangor, to Europe and more at Xmas time!
                                                                                          Unless you know a lobsterman, you're screwed as to price. I also live near the entrance to Acadia and the tourism drives up the price, locally.
                                                                                          After being bitten by them , I don't mind the commotion in the pot at all! To dispatch for raw meat, I either drive a 20 prnny nail up through through the bottom, between the legs, but usually I just rip 'em in half between the head and tail; quick, easy and effecient.

                                                                                            1. re: currymouth

                                                                                              Do you realize the great irony? Here I sit 200 yds from the ocean on the coast of Maine and I gotta drive 500 mi. to visit my mom to find affordable lobsters? There is a big difference between the $7.99 you pay and the $12.99 a .lb they hook you for up here where they were caught. Ahhh, the double edged sword of tourism. Too many New Jersey tourists! Hope they're still on sale at Shoprite by Monday! T shirt is where I won't forget it.

                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                I was on the Island this week and I thought I passed a gas station/small store in Trenton that had a sign out for $7.99 lb lobsters.
                                                                                                What I am really going to miss is the smoked Salmon and shrimp from Sullivan Harbor Farms.

                                                                                                1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                  We rented a vacation home in Trenton last September and bought our lobsters from the pounds near the bridge. Although I can't recall the exact prices we paid, I do remember thinking that they were really reasonably priced. There were also soft-shelled lobsters available at that time, which were priced even lower.

                                                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  Yes, I talked to the seafood manager at Shoprite and he said it has pretty much leveled out at $7.99/lb. That will be my summer backyard t shirt.

                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Tell ya what... we can home-swap for a bit. I'd gladly pay higher prices for lobsters for the awesome opportunity to live 200 yards from the ocean. And you can take advantage of $6.99 a pound lobsters and enjoy southeastern PA.

                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                      Sorry, I'm also a coal cracker from eastern Pa., go eat some scrapple for me will ya? I 've got a lobsterman buddy, when when I need a bunch, but he lives in SWH.
                                                                                                      Bayside Boy

                                                                                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                      You want to buy a NJ tourist at Shop Rite? Nah, throw it back.

                                                                                                3. re: JoanN

                                                                                                  I was in Montauk last week and mentioned to a local the $11.99 price I saw at one fish store there, and they said that was really cheap! Well maybe that's a summertime price, another restaurant had 5 # lobsters on the menu for $65.95, and again I was told that was a bargain . Gee, a few years ago, people used to give me 2 or 3 lobsters for free whenever I was out there, when they'd have too many of them laying around. Sigh.

                                                                                                4. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  A number of supermarkets here in southeast PA had lobsters on sale this past week for 6.99/lb. Some of them were big guys -- 2 lbs+. The thing is, the shells were sooooooo hard I had to reach for the crab mallets to crack the claws.

                                                                                            2. Cooked my share of lobsters and Maryland Blue Crabs. Lobsters are docile beasts compared to blue crabs. Good indication of a live lobster is that the tail will curl when you pick it up, just behind the head. Get a good rolling boil and some thyme to reduce the odor a bit and plunge the lobster into the water. A lobster will sometimes "drop a claw" when in danger, so if both of the claws are intact, you musta dispatched it
                                                                                              The way I do blue crabs is to stun them cold water for about 20 minutes then layer them in the pot with Old Bay, dry mustard, Kosher salt, plack pepper a bit of cinnamon
                                                                                              cider vinegar and beer. Onto the stove and done in 20 minutes!!!

                                                                                              1. Today's NYT Magazine blog has an entry by Jill Santopietro on the most humane -- or least inhumane -- way to kill lobsters. See http://themoment.blogs.nytimes.com/20...

                                                                                                The upshot is that there is no consensus.

                                                                                                The takeaway quote? "When I asked Robert Bayer, a professor of animal and veterinary science and the director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, what, in his opinion is the most humane way to kill a lobster, he told me that 'there are a couple of ways to minimize trauma to the person that is doing the cooking.' Wait! I said the lobster, not the cook. But that was exactly his point: the cook is the one most affected by cooking lobster."

                                                                                                Other points:
                                                                                                - Cutting a lobster through the head may crueler than boiling it. "I read that a lobster’s nervous systems does not put it in a state of shock; they are probably well aware when they are being cut up."
                                                                                                - McGee points out that, while some studies suggest refrigeration may daze a lobster prior to cooking, standard fridge temp "probably feels pretty balmy" to animals used to living on the bottom of the northern Atlantic. He suggests that chilling the crustaceans in salted ice water -- i.e. water colder than 32ºF/0ºC -- may numb them to their fate.
                                                                                                - Leaving a lobster out at room temperature for 30 minutes may be worse than steaming it for 10.
                                                                                                - Boiling produces meat that is more waterlogged than with other methods, something I've also noticed.

                                                                                                1. Play some Barry Manilow music for the lobster and in about 5 minutes, it will take up the knife and kill itself.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                                    The trouble is, what if I get to the knife first?

                                                                                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                                      kudos to you, bkhuna. well played! ;-)).

                                                                                                      1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                                        Hard to say if the lobster or I would go first! I plunge them into boiling water head first, cover the pot and their movement stops faster that way than any other I've used.

                                                                                                        As to boiling, doing it in sea water the way the lobster pounds do in Maine is super tasty, and I've never had a waterlogged lobster that way. The hard shells don't have room to soak it up, and the soft shells are already very wet.

                                                                                                      2. I must have replied to another similar post or was zapped. We eat a lot of lobster, either free or 2 bucks per lb. In my younger days, I worked summers on a lobster off North Haven Isand as a sternman. I hate the vile, agressive, mindless, snapping creaters and have been bitten (It really hurts!) too many times by the prehistoric beasts to not want revenge. I steam them in an inch or less of water and drop them in and from the time the water returns to a boil, steam for another 20-30 min. depending on the size of the bugs. Then I do a victory dance. I twirl around in a circle with my arms raised over raised over my head and chant w/ a big smile on my face, "Die slimy mother fuc**rs, die!" as they writhe in the pot. I then calm down, melt the butter, dump the red commie bastards into the sink to cool and then enjoy w/ my beverage of choice!
                                                                                                        Are you aware that lobsters are cannibalistic and that the rubber bands on the claws are not for your protection, but as assurance that they do not eat each other in transit?

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                          After I worked at a lobster restaurant and saw the bugs eating each other (had to go through the inventory every morning), I lost any sympathy I had for them. The chefs would spear them on a big knife and walk around the kitchen before putting them in the steamer, laughing at their agony. They deserve their painful deaths, it is in tune with Nature's ways and only fair.

                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                            Well, I wouldn't make them suffer, if indeed they do, regardless of the fact that they cannabalize each other. I would suffer just watching that behavior. Respect the food, the quicker the better. But I know how things get done in professional kitchens.
                                                                                                            I read somewhere that it's great to get 'em drunk in cheap white wine, the boxed variety, before dispatching. Never wanted to waste all that wine though, even the cheap crap can be useful for something.
                                                                                                            I've killed literally hundreds of lobsters in my life and I sure hope there's no special place in hell for people like me.

                                                                                                          2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                            Your 2nd photo is sheer bliss. I LOVE Lobsters! I steam them in salty water... my brother steams them in beer. Frankly, I like my way better...shhh...don't tell him.

                                                                                                            After cooking I pierce the shell in different spote then set them upside down in a colander over a bowl to collect the liquid from the shell and use that as an addition a spicy tomato sauce.

                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                              I agree, beer with lobster, not lobster in beer.

                                                                                                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                                                                              SS, what do YOU think of the Lobber Taser?

                                                                                                                1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                                                                                  This whole discussion is silly. We eat many animals that have been alive, killed, cooked and eaten. Why should lobsters be in a different category?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    Because most of us don't do the killing of other animals ourselves.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                      Well some of us shuck oysters, clams. Those of us who raise chicken, pigs, any livestock for that matter, for consumption, have to perform the ritual. I suppose this is what drives people to be vegetarians. But if we want to eat fresh shellfish, or indeed any food previously living then we have to understand that the critters have to be slaughtered.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                          I agree with mcf - I like to eat meat but I like it a little removed from the living creature it came from. Shucking oysters and clams is NOT the same as boiling a lobster alive, they don't actually move, other than shutting the shells tightly, so it's easier to view them more like plants - eg. green onions are alive, you can root them in the summer and get more green onion, doesn't bother me at all.

                                                                                                                          Food that squirms, on the other hand... I've heard of live fish at sushi places, much as I love sushi, the fresher the better, the concept kind of grosses me out.

                                                                                                                          1. re: hsk

                                                                                                                            HSK, try shooting, gutting, skinning and butchering a 300 lb deer and you'll know where your food comes from.
                                                                                                                            By comparison, lobster is easy.
                                                                                                                            ps I love the deer heart and liver!

                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                            I understand what you're saying and I agree with you. I was just answering your question.

                                                                                                                            There's a big diff between knowing your food has been killed by someone and doing it yourself, and for many, if not most of us, lobster is as close as we every come to doing the dirty work.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              Ah. Now I see what I missed. I've never shot and dressed an animal as Passa does, So dispatching lobster is as close as it gets for me too. I wonder if I would have survived long ago.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                i'm still laughing.
                                                                                                                                hunting is ok. fishing, too. growing vegetables has a ton of merit. making cheese, making bread also works.
                                                                                                                                brewing beer and distilling booze are on the stack.
                                                                                                                                dispatching lobsters? way too simple.

                                                                                                                          3. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            i have no problem eatiing some things while still alive.
                                                                                                                            i've had live black bass at a sushi place that was lookiing right at me as i consumed its yummy flesh.

                                                                                                                            and i do love the feeeling of live octopus as they try to escape my gaping maw, no matter homw hard they try to climb out, i always win.

                                                                                                                  2. For anyone still reading this, there's a british company that makes lobster electric chairs. Supposedly knocks them out in less than a second and kills them in five seconds. They're mostly targeted towards industry at this point, though.


                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: albaloo

                                                                                                                      ha ha -- "crustastun"! http://www.crustastun.com/

                                                                                                                      only $4,740! don't all of you line up at once!

                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                        You can also just drop the lobster into a pot of FRESH water...it will die almost instantly from osmotic shock. I found that out in my younger days when I dropped a lobster into a friends fish tank just to be obnoxious...when I pulled it out seconds later it was dead as a doornail.

                                                                                                                        1. re: EricMM

                                                                                                                          is osmotically shocked lobster meat to be recommended?

                                                                                                                    2. Several people here have suggested methods for a quick dispatch, which, at least, works for them. The three that seem to stand out are stabbing the lobster in the back of the head, even with or just in back of the eyes, with a ten inch chef's knife. The second is cutting or, as Passadumkeg put it, "ripping" them in half, separating the tail from the rest of the lobster. The third is immersing them in cold, fresh water. The writers recommended the immersion in fresh water have not really stayed in the room to determine how long this takes, except that one wrote that this was very quick when he immersed the lobster in his friend's fish tank.

                                                                                                                      I don't want these animals to suffer, and boiling or steaming live seems incredibly cruel. The sticking them in fresh water seemed like good solution to me until another writer said that this would make their cells explode internally, which sounds incredibly painful.

                                                                                                                      How about this?: immerse them in drinkable alcohol. You can get this at any liquor store. The flavor is neutral and, after you killed them, you could rinse off the alcohol with salt water. I've got to believe that alcohol would be poisonous to them and kill them within a minute or less. If immersed in alcohol for a minute or less, the the cells would not have time to explode. I am not saying that this is an ideal solution, but surely it would be better than boiling them or steaming them. I've never tried this, so I do not know whether it would work.

                                                                                                                      We're still talking about asphyxiation and poisoning but I think it would work very quickly.

                                                                                                                      The knife in the back of the head works for me sometimes, but other times, just makes the lobster angry and forces me to split him in half, but this screws up cooking him correctly.