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Splitting a Live Lobster ... HELP!!!

NOOOOOOO!!!! I just can't do it!! I have no problem dropping them into the steamer pot, fighting and kicking, but the recipes I'm considering preparing from Jasper White's "Lobster at Home" all require splitting them live. I'm wondering if I can get them partially steamed at the market and then pick up the recipe from there, but I have no idea how to adjust the cooking time, or how the recipe might be affected. I'm looking specifically at some of the pan roasted lobster recipes. Can anyone offer any advice to this crustacean coward?

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  1. did u ask them at the market if they will split them for you?

    once u slice thru the miniscule brain they dont feel anything after that....if that helps..

    1. The first time is always the hardest. Grab a big knife and go for it.
      The agonizing you're giving this isn't worth the 30 seconds it takes to do the job.
      I think if you put it in the freezer for a couple minutes it will slow the bugger down, so maybe it'll be a bit less traumatic for you? - Haven't tried this, they would laugh at me at work too much, but I believe I've read this can help...
      It's not my favorite job, but when you want good lobster it is necessary. You can do it, sister!

      2 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

        That's just something I don't want to do. I once took a class (observation only, no hands-on participation) where the chef-instructor demonstrated this technique. It was disturbing to me to see the lobster parts twitching around after it had been split.

        1. re: CindyJ

          They are dead already, the flopping is just the nerves twitching...I know it hard, but after the first few you will get used to it. I worked in a fish market and the hardest thing for me was taking the tails off right after they were killed, the tail twitched and moved across the counter.

      2. I did this once for Jacques Pepin's recipe for lobster fricasee.....I felt like i was in a battle...It was very stressful. I said I wouldn't do it again...because of the involuntary moving even after you cut it up..ugh...

        That being said...I heard that if you stick it in the freezer I think for about 30 minutes...that'll do the trick. So I still might do it someday, but the first time definitely scarred me emotionally.

        1. Yes you can partially cook them them split and continue the recipe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: treb

            Thanks! Is there a way to ensure I don't overcook them?

          2. I think you can steam them a little to lull them to sleep - and not over cook them. Just steam they till they aren't moving. But I, too, would suggest putting the bugger in the freezer for maybe 10 min. I wouldn't want them to actually freeze. I used to work at a restaurant in RI and we had to skewer a live lobster - get a bug skewer, ram it up the butt and aim for the head. The first few times were difficult, but the faster you do it, the easier it is on you and them. Once their brain or nerve center is hit and they stop moving, it's all easy from there.

            1. I just read about this somewhere. The lobsters are dead after a 4 minute steam.

              1. I can't do it either, Cindy, but I vouch for the steam-it-slightly-dead and move on from there technique.

                1. In agreement with all the people who say to just split it and get it over with. Get a heavy, very sharp knife with a thick blade and a sharp point. Put the lobster on its back- put the knife between its eyes...the eyes are on top, but on the ventral side there is a groove that you can put the knife into. Just quickly shove the point in all the way- it will go through the brain, killing it instantly. When you think of it, its actually much less cruel than putting it in hot steam. While you can go the freezer route, I think people are fooling themselves that this will "anaesthetize" the lobster. It will slow it down, so it will appear unconscious. Not sure it will not feel anything. But, as I said, a quick stab is over before you or the lobster know it, so just go with that. Ignore the twitching. Like it or not, all freshly killed animals will twitch. But if you really get disturbed by the twitching- years ago, when eels were more common, I'd sometimes keep one that I caught to slap on the grill. After the knife through the brain, after the skinning, after the gutting, after the cutting into sections and marinating, the pieces would still twitch when I put them on the grill.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: EricMM

                    "Get a heavy, very sharp knife with a thick blade and a sharp point. Put the lobster on its back- put the knife between its eyes...the eyes are on top, but on the ventral side there is a groove that you can put the knife into. Just quickly shove the point in all the way- it will go through the brain, killing it instantly."

                    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I'm just not going to do that!!!

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      It's truly the most humane way to do it. Everything else is more for your comfort, not the lobsters.
                      Have your tried pan roasted chicken? I hear it tastes just like lobster. ;)

                      1. re: rabaja

                        I'll let you in on a little secret: it IS more about my comfort than the lobster's!

                        By the way -- you're funny! :)

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          I had a feeling that was the objective.
                          Hope you find something that works for you! Please let us know, in any case.

                        2. re: rabaja

                          Pan-roasted chicken? Do you have to kill the chicken first ? :)

                          I agree that the knife through the brain (of the lobster, not the chicken) is the easiest, maybe not for you but for the lobster. You also find out PDQ if there are some of those delicious eggs in there.

                    2. The easiest way to do it is to put them in the freezer for 5 minutes,they are still alive but almost in a coma and quite manageable.Make sure you have a heavy,sharp knife and it takes no more than a few seconds. Lobsters are like bugs, very primitive, so don't stress.

                      1. Just be glad you don't have to lop off the head of a chicken or stick a pig and have him run around till he drops.
                        That's the way my grandparents got their food.

                        I love meat of all types (and I consider fish and shellfish as 'meat'). Just face it...we _kill living creatures_ (some with faces, and some even with significant intelligence) for food.
                        We've sure gotten "soft" in our culture when it comes to reconciling with that fact.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: The Professor

                          I believe that is slowly changing,with proteins getting more expensive every day and a trend toward knowing where it actually comes from, I do believe the younger generation want to be exposed to the hard facts of the origin of the meats,fish and poultry that they consume. It will never be like our grand fathers time but it's getting there.
                          When we visited our grandfather, we looked forward to helping him break down the half of a hog he would buy in the fall and store for the rest of the year... Still use his knives and cleaver.