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Lobster is Cheap Again - SWEET!

Point Lobster Co. (St. Louis Avenue, Point Pleasant) is selling culls and soft shell lobsters for only $3.99 a pound. Bad for the East Coast lobster fleet, good for food geeks! I picked up a pair of 1 3/4 pound softies for about 12 bucks yesterday . . . may go back today.

Oh, and the Shop Rite on 34 has top split ("New Egland style") hot dog rolls.

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  1. What's the difference between soft shell and regular lobsters?

    7 Replies
      1. re: joonjoon

        They have recently molted and the new shells have not quite fully hardened. They are not as "soft" as a soft shell crab, just more pliable than usual. One note, as to cooking, steam or grill softies - don't submerge in boiling water.

        1. re: MGZ

          Good tip even for hard-shell. Steaming does as good a job of cooking, doesn't waterlog them, and most importantly, because you have much less water to bring to a boil, lets you start eating much sooner!

          1. re: Spaetzle75

            While there is some truth to that statement, it is a bit of an oversimplification. When a lobster molts, it sheds the shell it has outgrown and replaces it with a larger one. It grows quickly to fill its new space as the shell hardens. This is the period during which the bug is sold as a "softie." The harder the shell has become, the closer to filling the space the flesh is.

            If you took a soft shell lobster and a hard shell one of equal length, the hard shell will have more "meat." Since soft shells weigh less than hard shells, and since lobsters are sold by weight and not carapice length the disparity becomes much less important. In my experience, the significant discounts sometimes found on soft shell lobsters can be a great reward for a knowledgable 'hound.

            1. re: MGZ

              Thanks for 'splaining it. Now I'll know when it comes to purchasing a bug or a hard shell. It still may result in some cognitive dissonance - let's go to the scale!!!!

              1. re: MGZ

                I equate the taste to veal (soft shell) and beef (hard shell). Be sure to crack ope a shedder over a bowl as they often have a lot of expensive sea water.

          2. I read the following a few weeks ago and was interested to see when we would see the prices drop around here.
            Will the prices of Hot Dog Rolls now spike , I wonder !

            http://money.cnn.com/2009/07/17/news/...

            1 Reply
            1. re: xny556cip

              I suppose it's practically our moral duty to eat more lobsters!

              The same thing happened to prices last fall. I think we had lobsters 5-6 times in October. Almost got boring - the highlight was stuffing freshly-cought fluke filets with all the meat from a pound and a half bug! To me, that's also the perfect size for a decadent lobster roll.

              As an aside - a package of 8 Arnold top splits was, coincidently, also $3.99.

            2. I've been seeing ads all summer for this outfit http://www.shoalharborlobster.com/ in Port Monmouth, selling lobsters at $3.99, but with the warning "While supplies last!" and haven't bothered to make the cross-county diagonal trip out of fear of the supply not lasting until get there. Any experiences to relate- eat-in or to-go?

              1. It's that time of year again . . .

                $2.99 a pound for softies at Point Lobster. I just picked up 4 bugs for under $20!!

                1. While the price is most definitely sweet, so is the meat to these rascals. Called my son from work today and told him to head down to Point and pick up dinner. 8lbs for $24 and change which he and I just finished up.

                  I'm indeed sated and smell like Raritan Bay with a heavy whiff of melted butter and lemon. Someone hose me down ;^)

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: JustJake

                    jake - how'd you cook them - steam or boil and for how long? Going to get some for us and wondering if the cook time is faster for softies as compared to normal hard shell.

                    1. re: Foody4life

                      It's mentioned above, but worth repeating - steam or grill the lobsters, don't submerge them in water to boil. Most of the softies at Point Lobster are 1 to 1 1/2 pounds and will be perfectly steamed in 12 to 15 minutes. (One note - I don't know if it will affect anything, but there's much going on in Point Pleasant today. Call first?)

                      1. re: MGZ

                        12-15 minutes? A 1.5 hard shell shouldn't be steamed for more than about 7-8 minutes. I can't believe a softie takes more.

                        Maybe if you were doing a half dozen or more it would take a little longer, but I envision chewy meat.

                        1. re: cantkick

                          The first 3 lber I pulled out of the pot at 10 minutes had to be dropped into the next batch for an extra 2 minutes to be done just right.

                          1. re: JustJake

                            That's expected. About 5-6 minutes for 1 to 1 1/4. About 3-4 minutes more for each pound over that. Err on slightly undercooking. I wouldn't go any larger than that, as the meat will tend to be tough, most likely because you are overcooking most of it in order to avoid undercooking the rest.

                            1. re: cantkick

                              In the past two weeks alone, I’ve steamed 3 batches of 4 lobsters. The bugs have all been between 1 ¼ and 2 pounds. 12 to 15 minutes has worked perfectly. Keep in mind that steaming takes longer that boiling and that there is fundamentally no real difference in cooking times for hard and soft shells. (A soft shell lobster’s shell is not like that on a soft shell crab. Generally speaking, I’d estimate them to be only 20% less “hard.”)

                              Now, granted, my technique is a bit unconventional. In order to steam 4 at a time, I place them side by side, alternating head to tail, across two 1 inch racks in a large roasting pan. The pan is placed across two burners on the stove and covered by sheets of aluminum foil. A half inch or so of water (ocean, preferably) covers the bottom of the pan. Once the water comes to a boil the burners are set at medium so as to steam without the water boiling up into the shells. 12 minutes or so later we’re going to table. (I’m not the only one who thinks so, http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=stea...

                              )

                              As to bigger lobsters being tough, I must disagree. The largest lobster I’ve eaten was just south of 20 pounds. (My dad and uncle used hammers and chisels to break the shells. The “thumb” of one of the claws – which my dad still has – was half a foot long). Over the years, several 10 plus pounders have met their demise with my family, as have countless bugs in the 4-6 pound range. All of which have been succulent and sweet.

                              Simply stated, “Big lobsters are tough is a myth.” Big lobsters do, however, breed, more successfully. Thus, I no longer buy lobsters with a greater than 5 inch carapace length, in accord with “Maine Rules.” See, e.g. http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/lobster/g...

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Well, since I don't get the big ones, I'll have to take your word on that.

                                Steaming really shouldn't take longer than boiling, despite the internet info. But steaming is a little more forgiving, so you probably can up the time a little without damage. I have seen many sources that recommend long cooking times, but personal experience (over 45 years, and I grew up eating fresh catch Maine lobsters) says keep the time down. Try dropping the time a little and see how you like it. I'll bet you'll be even happier.

                      2. re: Foody4life

                        Steamed them for 12 minutes. We had 2 3lb'ers and a couple 1 1/4's. Full & sweet and really easy getting at em'.

                        1. re: JustJake

                          Glad you got to enjoy 'em, Jake.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            Thanks for the 'heads up'. MGZ; it really was worth it