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Jun 12, 2008 10:03 AM

Best way to dismember a lobster?

Hey all just wondering if you had any advice on the best way to dismember a lobster. I had never actually heard of this term before and consider myself quite a foodie. Will be buying fresh lobsters and I assume I would need to cook them that same day.

Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. Not sure if this is what you mean, but the general approach for a lobster is:
      1) break off the tail at the joint
      2) break off the wide flat tin "fins" (are they fins? I have no idea) at the end of the tail, and then press the tail meat out, pushing from the narrow tail end
      3) break off the claws
      4) using a cracker, break open the claws and remove the meat (removing the smallest part of the claw first eases things, and cracking the "leg" part at the joints helps, too)
      5) grabbing the the meaty part of the body and lift away from the shell
      6) remove "the old lady in the rocking chair" - I think that's the liver? It's the dark sac behind the head. Discard.
      7) pull off the legs. You can suck them, throw them away (for shame!), toss them straight into the lobster stock pot, or use a rolling pin to press out the tiny bits of meat.
      8) pick at the body meat. there's actually quite a bit at the base of the legs. cracking the back in half the long way will expose some nice meaty pockets.
      You can eat the green tomalley (some don't), and the red roe, if you're lucky enough to get it.


      Supposedly, you can hold lobsters in a bag in the fridge for up to two days, but as a native New Englander, I can say we always sped home to get them in the water ASAP.

      3 Replies
      1. re: curiousbaker

        Actually, keeping the critters in the fridge for a little while is a kindness. As cold blooded bugs, sticking them in a cold environment shuts down their body and sends them into hibernation. Taking them right from the fridge to the boiling pot (head first) means a speedy demise before they've even really woken up and know what's happening.

        And yes, throwing away the legs,body meat, or green tomalley is absolutely for shame! Spoken as a life long New Englander, those are some of the best parts (tails are for tourist) ;)

        1. re: InmanSQ Girl

          I throw them in the freezer for a few minutes (say, ten) to "calm" them, but I can't imagine holding them for two days doesn't affect quality.

          1. re: InmanSQ Girl

            I get sick every time I eat the tomalley. After three times, I just gave up and don't eat it any more. Wasn't worth it.

          1. Make sure the shells are firm, not flimsy (check on the carapace - the main part of the body) .. you don't want to buy a recently-molted bug. The fish guy should let you hold them - make sure they are lively.

            If you are crafty, you can find some way to use the shell/head to make some stock..

            If you are super-paranoid about causing grief to the critter, refrigerate them and then use the "kitchen knife through the brain" method..

            1. "Dismember" as the term applies to lobster, implies working with a dead crustacean, so plaintive wails about how to most painlessly bring about this condition are irrelevant.
              The tail section will disgorge from the thorax with a simple twist after you allow a sufficient cool-down interval. This operation should be done over a plate or bowl separate from the diner's plate, because tomalley, roe, water, and heretofore undefined tar-like viscous liquids will exude. The claws and the two knuckles segments will tear off easily. The knuckle segments may require scissors or a sharp pointed knife, and then the knuckle meat (the sweetest, in my opinion) will pop out with a push from your little finger. Claws? Depends on size and season. Tear off the pincer and drain the liquid. I have various sized pliers and hammers for whacking the claws. My guests are usually excited to see tools when they first see my table setting...because they know I did not invite them to assist with a plumbing repair.