Which is better, smaller or bigger lobsters?
Our local (Dayton, OH) gourmet grocery store is having their annual lobsterfest - selling them (assume ~1 1/4 lbs) for $12 each. Not a huge savings but the going rate around here has been $14.99 to $15.99/pound, just there about two months ago when it was only $9.99/lb.
I don't have a lot of experience buying and cooking lobsters outside of often ordering at restaurants. I was recently watching a show about Maine restaurants where the owner of the Crab Shack (think that was the name) said a huge misconception is that those ~1 1/4 lb lobster are better eating than larger lobsters. He said the larger the better - the meat is way better with larger lobsters (assume 2 plus lbs) vs those smaller ones.
Anyone agree, or disagree? I really don't have much experience with larger lobsters.
I do know that price per pound goes up over 2lbs here - assume it's a supply and demand thing, or just a supply thing.
We've talked on this subject before, and, since I'm feelin' lazy, I'm just gonna cut & paste. They're related, the first being a bot more matter of fact and the second anecdotal. As you'll see, the only difference between lobster sizes is knowin' how to cook 'em. As an aside, I should note that if I'm payin' twelve bucks for a little bug, there better be some beer thrown in.
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"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 than 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=steamed+lobster+cooking+time
)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..."
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"When I was around ten (I'm thinking '78-'79), we were at my Uncle's house in Lavallette. He gave my Dad some money to go see the guy he knew in Point that sold lobsters. He told him to "Get the biggest ones they got."
Well, me and the old man, drove up 35 to the fish store. My Dad talked to his buddy who informed him that they had a twenty pound bug and, although they had thought of simply using it for a display, he would gladly sell and cook it for the cash my Uncle had given Pop. We retreated across the street where Dad had a beer or two and bought me a couple sodas.
We later delivered the monster to the family, where my Aunt had set a nice white tablecloth and silver. Well, a lobster that big doesn't succomb to the usual crackers. My Uncle and my Dad resorted to a chisel and hammer. At the table we used knives and fingers to cut and dunk hunks of meat into a large saucepan of melted butter. To my pre-teen mind (and gullet), it was the most awesome thing ever! Dad still has one of the claw "thumbs".
To my recollection, the beast probably cost us around fifty bucks."
My in-laws owned a small guest house on Nantucket for
many years. Several times each summer, my mother-in-law would go down to the wharf, buy a couple 5 to 8 pound lobsters, cook them up in a garbage can used just for that purpose and invite all their guests to join the family.
Although the shells are tough to crack without the proper
equipment, the meat was as sweet and tender as any
that of any smaller lobster I've eaten.
We are going out in about an hour to score some $7./lb lobstahs from out local Acme. They have them about 4 times in the summer and we do partake.
One year in NJ I found lobster claws on NYE day and picked up a few. That evening I was trying to crack them. They were huge. Hubby hears BAM from the kitchen, and comes in to find me with a hammer, and the cutting board on the floor, and me trying to crack these babies. He laughed at me, then tried himself. We finally got them open, with the hammer and big pliers, he measured the thickness of the claw shells and they were 1/4" thick.
We're in no danger of finding those today, but we still laugh about that.
More important than size is freshness and season. The shorter the interval between tank and cooking the better. Winter lobsters are better than summer lobsters. Bigger lobsters are less work than cracking two lobsters. I have not noticed taste differences, but I have heard both opinions from people who do---'Bigger is better' vs. 'Smaller is better.' I'm not going to turn down any lobster based on size.
Here is an older thread on the same topic
A quote from a Food Enthusiast that documented his cooking of a 20# Lobster
"Conclusion: Done properly, a large lobster is every bit as good as a small one. Maybe better."
After living and working in New England for quite a while and cooking and eating many Lobster that larger Lobster give you a better yield, and the meat is no tougher and sometimes sweeter than the smaller ones. The very large (3# +) Lobster is a bit tricky to cook.
This won't be an authoritative answer by any stretch... but an old timer Maine native who's been around advised me rather emphatically that a 1 or 1.5lb lobster is a much, MUCH better value than the bigger bugs often offered, and said it was far better to buy the smaller ones.
He maintained that the bigger ones were "tourist sucker bait".
I figure, he_should_ know. I've always followed that advice and have never been disappointed. I too would be interested in other folks' take on the subject.
Here in NJ, they're currently showing up for 5.99-6.99/lb.