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Jan 1, 2012 02:06 AM

My $50 New Year's Lobster Lesson

Bought four 2 lb lobsters here at a chinese market ($5.99 a lb in Toronto, Canada) and since they spent a few hours in my car, when I got home I put them in the sink with cold water. One was very lively, the others were lazier.

Then I putzed around and eventually did some searching and read that fresh water kills them... instantly... nice. Not supposed to put them in the sink. They weren't moving much, if at all anymore.

Since they'd just likely died, I figured cooking them right away was best rather than putting them in the fridge as I was planning.

So I read you can parboil lobster and finish it the next day, and I did that, boiling them for 5 minutes each one at a time. Now they're in the fridge.

What's my best bet to finish cooking them? I was thinking doing this pretty much, but I'm open to suggestions:

Lessons learned:

- Pick my own lobsters from now on from the tank, rather than let the guy do it, and look for lobsters that stretch out when picked up
- Get them home faster and into the fridge with wet newspaper

The lobsters do seem fine, their tails are all tightly curled, should be fine.. Just not sure if this 1986 recipe is going to do them justice or if there's a better way to finish them after a par-boil.

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  1. When a lobster dies, i.e., naturally or accidentally from handling or storage, it must be cooked off immediately if the flesh is to saved for eating. What happens is gases form in their digestive track and deteriorates the flesh....the reason for lobster meat being soft and considered bad.

    The same is true for shrimp and other shellfish as well. Another tip, Freezing lobsters alive is not recommended. You can always tell if a lobster has been frozen alive....when cooked off and presented in the shell....the meat always stick to the shell. This does not happen if you cook off a lobster, then freeze.

    1. If you cooked the lobsters immediately after (or better, before) they died, they're probably fine. Remove the meat from the shell and make sure it's still firm. If not, that was an expensive lesson.

      I wouldn't use the recipe you linked to mainly because you need to remove the meat from the shell to make sure it's still good to eat. If it is, I would use it in some kind of a saute where you can more easily control how much longer the lobster cooks and make sure you don't end up with overcooked, rubbery lobster.

      1. i'd shell the buggers and see what you've got before you throw more good money at this project.

        parboiling is the 1st step to making butter-poached lobster. if the lobsters are ok, this will allow for a very gentle cook-method and the buerre-monte gives the meat an amazing flavor and texture.

        btw, leaving them in a cold car is far less damaging than putting them in tap water. they can live out of the water for quite a few hours, but can't process the tap water and drown in it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Thanks everyone, this butter poaching seems ideal, so I'll give that a go. I think I'll make some fettucine alfredo type thing and stack some poached lobster on top for dinner tonight.

        2. Heat lobster with a little butter, flame with Jamesons, finish with some creme fraiche or cream. Called "Dublin Lawyer" it's great.

          2 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            If that doesn't work, just drink the rest of the Jameson's..:)

            Seriously, the lobsters should be fine. I've eaten plenty of "just dead" lobsters that were in the bottom of water filled coolers with no ill effect.

            Escondido's recipe sounds great!

            1. re: 9lives

              Like the drinking of the Jameson's solution!

          2. Good grief, I did the same thing years ago. I was a beginning cook and brought two lobsters home and put them in the kitchen sink and covered them with water. Dead. I assumed they had died in the bag on the way home, so I brought them back to the store and they gave me two new ones. Well.... same thing - they were dead because I put them in water. I brought them back too, and got two NEW ones. (Store was very liberal with their return policy, it seemed.) But, this time I was ready to cook them so I kept them in the bag for a minute or so while getting the pot ready.

            I read in an article about a year after that about the fresh water doing them in - so, then I felt really bad for killing four lobsters that way. Valuable lesson, finally learned. I'm not sure why the seafood folks didn't think to mention that after I brought the second two back to the store.

            1 Reply
            1. re: breadchick

              I did the same thing to a pile of blue claw crabs. I'd seen my dad clean & prep them in the sink a million times. Only thing I got wrong, is that he never filled the sink with water like I did. Sorry crabs. They were fine boiled off (as you cooks say.)