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DavidS
10-02-2009, 09:26 AM
Hi,

Looking for some advice from the experts.

When looking for lobsters down here in the south we've generally gone for the caribbean type and throw the tails on the grill. Tasty!

So, last week we decide to get the "real" lobsters with those big-ass claws and bought a couple from the local mega-mart. Yes, they were fully alive and kickin' when they went into to boiling pot.

Funny thing was that when they came out of the pot they didn't smell too good. In fact, they sort of stunk. After boiling, and bustin' them apart, the meat was very good. But, we're still wondering about the smell. Even with the meat out of the shell there was a smell (but the taste was fine).

Is this normal ? Was the water in the lobster tank at the local mega-mart to blame ? From what I've recently read, we could have added lemon, beer, wine, salt, or whatever to the pot but at the time we didn't.

Maybe I should just take another trip up the Maine coast and eat lobster rolls every day like I did a couple years ago. Mmmmm.......

Thanks !

Dave

Bruce Hooke
10-02-2009, 09:30 AM
In my family we prefer to steam rather than boil lobsters.

Not sure what the story is with the smell.

Mrleft8
10-02-2009, 09:36 AM
I dump a couple of fistfulls of sea (coarse...or kosher) salt in the water before it gets boiling. Lemon goes on while you're dunking the meat in melted butter, the beer should go straight from the bottle to your mouth.
The stink probably was foul tank water.
Not overcooking is another trick. Make sure the water is rolling boiling. 8 minutes for the first pound/pound and a quarter, 2 minutes for the next pound -1 minute per pound after that. They keep cooking a little bit after you pull them out of the water

rbgarr
10-02-2009, 09:47 AM
Probably the tank water. Salt the boiling water as mentioned.

Tom Wilkinson
10-02-2009, 10:52 AM
... you can't eat a dead lobster.

Every lobster I've ever eaten was dead;), but I know what you mean.

2MeterTroll
10-02-2009, 12:16 PM
What did it smell like?

paladin
10-02-2009, 12:31 PM
The north end of a south bound mule....

StevenBauer
10-02-2009, 12:38 PM
The best way to cook lobsters is to steam them. Either in a pot with seawater and seaweed or, even better, buried in the rocks of the beach on a bed of coals with seaweed, clams, potatoes and corn. Yum.
I haven't actually cooked a lobster in ages. I just call the fish store ahead and have them steam them for me. No extra charge, just pick them up right before closing and they are ready to eat when I get home. Much less messy that way.


Steven

2MeterTroll
10-02-2009, 12:41 PM
I believe
I-10 runs roughly east west would that be north side or after it was hit by a crazed Okey
and thrown into the southern ditch? :)

2MeterTroll
10-02-2009, 12:43 PM
I do have to point out i just dont understand you folks east. why would you cook something with the innards still in?

Willin'
10-02-2009, 12:43 PM
Absolutely boil or steam them in fresh seawater if you can. I'm not sure why it matters when you steam them, but it does. Makes a world of difference.

ShagRock
10-02-2009, 12:57 PM
Absolutely boil or steam them in fresh seawater if you can. I'm not sure why it matters when you steam them, but it does. Makes a world of difference.

And for freshest taste, do it on the beach or in the boat. Throw a few scallops or mussels in while you're at it!

Bruce Hooke
10-02-2009, 01:00 PM
While I partly agree with those who talk about using seaweed and ocean water and cooking on the beach, in defense of those who have access to none of these items, lobster can be cooked just fine in a kitchen too, using tap water and the usual stuff available in a kitchen, as lots of restaurants across the country demonstrate on a daily basis.

Certainly we should lay to rest any questions of relative freshness. The lobster should always be live when it goes in the pot. You can't get any fresher than that! Also, I've heard some say that a waiting time of a few days between when the lobster gets hauled up and when it goes in the pot is actually a good thing because it clears out the lobster's digestive tract a bit.

coelacanth2
10-02-2009, 09:55 PM
My grandfather was a lobsterman up in Gloucester, kept a lobster car in their back yard (aka the inner harbor) so mom grew up eating bugs 2X per week. She always insisted on no more than 2" of H2O in the biggest pot and no more than a 2 lb critter, it being her contention that much bigger and they were tough by the time they steamed. My Japanese karate instructor used to do his on the grill - kinda fun, trying to keep them on it:eek:

SamSam
10-02-2009, 10:21 PM
A woman from Maine told a guy from Iowa how to cook lobsters and just today he told me, a guy from Minnesota who lives in Georgia and is at the moment in Texas, what she told him.

She said to take this seaweed that I'm giving you and put it in a pot with a inch or so of water and bring it to a boil. Take these lobsters that I'm selling you and dry them off real good with a towel, which will remove various crud from their shells which might make them stink or taste different. Throw them in on top of the seaweed and when they get red, they're done.

He swore they were screaming as they steamed, I didn't think they had vocal chords.

PatCox
10-02-2009, 10:43 PM
I have noticed that the exterior of the shell of a boiled lobster can have a slight reek, but nothing I would call donwright offensive. My guess would be that little critters and algea on the outside of the shell might have some role. Try rinsing them good before boiling, and the water should be salted, and I can imagine that if it was not, the smell might be more pronounced.

I find the maine lobster, homaris americanus, to have a better flavor, sweeter, less tough, a shellfish taste like a small quahog clam, but more delicate. The southern spiny lobsters are much more nutty in flavor, almost gamy, and have a tougher, stringier texture. I love them too, but the maine lobster has my heart.

Now when it comes to maine lobsters, the difference between one that has just shed, and one that is about to shed, is the difference between night and day. And its the most important thing to look for when buying.

When they shed, they pump water into their tissues to inflate their size, so that the new shell will have some room to grow in to. A lobster that has just shed, and for some time after, will have a thin, "tinny" shell, the carapace will give a little when you squeeze it, and it will be lighter, for its size. After cooking, a lobster that has just shed will be a big disappointment, the meat inside the shell will be small, and soft and watery.

But if you get one just before it sheds, its completely different. The meat packs the inside of the shell, when you crack the shell after cooking, it will almost pop out like popcorn, and the texture and taste is so much better, it is drier, but still delicate, its the best lobster on earth. before coooking, you can tell them because they are noticeably more dense, heavier for their size, and their shells are much thicker and harder. Thats the most obvious difference, a recently shed lobster's shell is more like leather, and will not "crack," you almost have to tear it, a lobster just before shedding has an almost brittle shell, much easier to crack open.

My understanding of the trade these days is that the nice, pre-shedding lobsters are diverted off for the high end restaurant market. If your local supermarket is having a $5.99 a pound lobster sale, its likely to be all recently shedded, semi-soft, lobsters, that will have a sometimes an amazingly small amount of meat inside a large shell, and the meat will be watery and disappointing.

This subject is one where you can trust me. This is my family background, not out on the water, though I have been out pulling pots, but in a lobster house restaurant operation that had 4 boats, a lobster wholesaling operation, and 20 lobster-house restaurants. I have cooked lobsters 50 pounds at a time in 50 gallon steam kettles, I have personally murdered more lobsters than most people alive. I have had true lobster rolls, the meat of a whole one pound lobster, taken out of the shell and served in a New England hot dog roll, split on top with nothing but butter as condiment. The ones we made for ourselves in the back, beleive me, were the best on earth.

PatCox
10-02-2009, 10:51 PM
And yes, dammit, if I could get it, I would always cook my lobsters on top of a layer of rockweed, the brown seaweed, very thick and leathery, with lots of little "floats" in it, little pockets of air that floats the seaweed when its in the water. Back in the 70s, when I was working in this business, the lobsters were always shipped packed in this seaweed, so it was easy to get. Just enough water to cover the rockweed, and then put the lobster on top. For a clambake, you put the potatoes directly on the rockweed, the lobsters on top, the corn over the lobsters, and the clams, packed in muslin bags, on top, then another layer of rockweed. I am convinced that the seaweed is essential. But they don't pack the lobsters in the seaweed anymore, and try as I might, I can't even get the seaweed, and I buy right off the dock.

SamSam
10-02-2009, 11:08 PM
How about the screaming, do they do that?

PatCox
10-02-2009, 11:17 PM
SamSam, they will certainly thrash about, but the screaming, sometimes, I have heard gasses, from the boiling, escaping from the carapace, hissing a bit. But no, I feel very confident, I once actually tried to calculate how many I have tossed into a pit, its in the tens of thousands, and no, they do not scream.

SamSam
10-02-2009, 11:33 PM
Well, that's good to hear. ;)

ShagRock
10-02-2009, 11:48 PM
Pat ...you got my vote for post of the day! I always tell tourists heading for places along the northeast coasts like Maine, NS, PEI, and the 'Rock'..you just gotta get down to the 'local' fisherman's wharf and buy those Atlantic lobsters from the fishers! And you're guaranteed, as you say, to have one of the "best meals on earth", and along with it see many fine boats!

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
10-03-2009, 12:08 AM
He swore they were screaming as they steamed, I didn't think they had vocal chords.

Roasting potatoes make the same sound. *eeeeeeeeee* It's the steam escaping.

ripley699
10-03-2009, 12:16 AM
This is gonna take a few minutes. I just got a fresh glass of white. the first thing that you really must do ,before you read any further is to find an elastic band ,a rubber band and start chewing it NOW !!Stop when you finsih reading.
The lobsters of the Northeastern U.S.A. [maine,n.h. and even New brunswick,Canada]
Everyone of these lobsters has their skeleton on the outside...ours are on the inside.we grow larger,we buy new,larger clothes. The lobster can't do that . Many people will tell you that once a year a lobster will shed its shell and then grow a new external skeleton,2 sizes too large so that gives them room to grow into them . That is correct but most lobsters shed their shell twice a year ,some even 3 times a year....in any case ,it always happens around mid june - late july depending upon how far north you find them.The second shedding at a later time.

Okay next ,when a lobster sheds his skeleton,he hides on the ocean floor for a few days to a week ,putting every ounce of nutrition into the new shell. after a week + - he starts to walk about ,looking for food . Until he had shed his shell,it was jam packed with meat..these are called "hard shelled lobsters .: the shell had just spent 4-8 months growing thicker in order to protect the lobster from other critters ,most often from the Cod fish and many times from the monk fish[god ,they are ugly !]
once they shed their shell they form a new shell which ,by definition is rather thin and these lobsters ,in the market place are called "soft shelled lobsters"
there is vry little difference between a soft shell and a hrd shell except the following:
the soft shell [known as "shedders" in the lobster business ] have less meat in the newly formed exo-skeleton as a percentage of meat/shell....remember ,this lobster will need this shell to protect it until it has filled that new shell .Once it is gettting to the point that the lobster no longer fits inside the existing shell ,he/she will molt ,then hide for bit ,growing a new thin shell ,which thickens over time.
So now we know the difference between hard shell lobsters and soft shell [sheaders]
the new soft shell lobster,when bought at the market will be very easy to break open and eat ,often without the "lobster crackers" same things we crack nuts open with around thanksgiving.But ,while these lobsters are so much easier to eat,their shells,and most commonly their claws,tend to be half empty.while this maay dissapoint many ,the reason is [re-read the first paraagraph]that they need that empty space to spend the next 4-8 montns growing into .
The soft shell "shedders " are always priced about $1.00-$2.00 perpound less than the hard shelled,because they are a tiny bit more shell/meat in ratio..easier to eat ,same sweetess except for the first 6-10 days after shedding [ remember,they put ALL theeir protein ,and other nutrients into building/forming a new shell..as a result,it is possible that a shedder MAY not taste quite as sweet as a hard shell.
# 2 how to cook "Maine " lobster.
If you put a 1 inch steak on the grill and say you like it rare..you might cook it for 4 minutes a side ,and then take it off...thats not how we cook lobsters.we boil them or steam them.
lets talk boiling them ,,,just for now.i agree that steaming is much better but this is a primer .i will tell those who want to steam ,a bit later on ,,,maybe another post.
SO, we are gonna boil a llobster..lets say we have a 1 1/4 pound lobster..boil it for X minutes if we cook 2 lobsters ,do we boil them for twice as long ?? No,don't you dare !!
A pound and a quarter has a certain body mass .my rule of thumb is to throw it in boiling water for about 12 minutes...if i cook 2 ,then I still boil for 12 minutes ...the key here ,,and this is the most important part of cooking lobsters [unless steaming them ]
When boiling a lobster , you put it in boiling water . the water stops boiling immediaatley ,and doesn't start to boil for 30-40 maybe 60 seconds,,,.!start your stopwatch !
If you put one lobster in ,it will prolly take 30 seconds to begin boiling again.once you see it begin to boil and bubble...count 12 minutes and not one second more ..throw in 3 lobsters and once you see them begin to boil ,,,12 minutes,,,not one second more.throw in 6-8 lobsters,,watch and when it starts to boil ...12 minutes more.
The main thing here is the mass of lobster: the larger the mass[ the more or the larger the lobsters] the longer it will take to come back to a boil..we all know that water boils to steam at 212 degrees ,,,salt wate a wee bit more ,but the more lobsters or the more "poundage" the longer..... ,,,except,while we are waiting for thosse 6 lobsters to come back to a boil ,its not like they are not cooking...they are ,somewhere around 180-200 degrees .so thee larger the mass ,the slower they are to come back to a boil [while they are still cooking at 188 degrees]
Do you see the pattern? a one pound lobster will come back to a boil after 15 seconds but 10 ,one pound lobsters will take a minute ,maybe two ,to begin to boil again ..
Now we know that t takes about 12 minutes to cook as many lobsters as you wish....it only depends upon when you begin to count!!!!!
A soft shell with its thin shell will come BACK to a boii so much faster than a hard shelled ,which can have a shell 1/4 inch thick !!!
So ,to cook lobsters..12 minutes will do just fine .I alwayd use this formula UP UNTIL I reach 24 pounds of lobster..after that ,i add one more minute to the 12 minutes yes ,,,just to be safe ....
P.S. I have cooked a few lobsters in my day ...oh yeah..EVERY lobster restaurant ,worth its weight ,will always cook them in sea water .i always go down to the water ,get 4-5 gallons of water ..if you can't get clean sea water,you would be safe to add 1 pound of salt for every 9-10 gallons of water.I use Kosher salt because it has such large salt granueles.
If you have followed this You will now be able to dazzle your friends..jut don't over cook them...that is why the timer or stop watch is SOOOOO important !!
RIP
P.S. Remember that rubber band? how does it taste now ?? ALWAYS remove the rubber band from the lobsters claws....BEFORE cooking ,,just pay attention !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Willin'
10-03-2009, 08:02 AM
Great posts, Pat and Ripley!

The only thing I'd add is that the texture and flavor are best when the meat has grown to fill the new shell but before the shell has fully hardened. Once it hardens the meat continues to swell and densify, leading to the next shedding. That dense meat can be tough and stringy.

Warm summer sea temps can prompt mass sheddings such that by mid July to August virtually all that is available are fresh shedders (also known as rags). These are the bugs that disappoint, although many infrequent diners prefer them as they're easiest to open barehanded.

Right now, as the temps are cooling and the bugs are beginning to migrate back offshore to deep water for the winter, is the best time of year for good lobster. The shells (even the claws) are full of light, tender tasty meat and easy enough to crack that a cracker is barely needed.

Also, my favorite parts are, in descending order:

Knuckle meat
Body meat
Claw meat
Tail meat

We usually eat the legs first while waiting for the bodies to cool. Some of the local lobster docks sell lobster leg appetizers in the summer time. Yum!

Now, as for tomalley, that's a whole nuther subject.

DavidS
10-03-2009, 08:31 AM
Wow !! I knew that you all would have this nailed.

Regarding the smell, Paladin got the right. Regarding the order of things, I agree with Lefty (beer goes in the mouth).

They were definitely alive and kicking before entering the pot. I expect that the smell must have been the tank water.

Steaming sounds like a better alternative, have to try that next time. Can't really get sea water around Atlanta. You don't want to know whats in the water from the Chattahoochee river.

Thanks!

Dave

Canoeyawl
10-03-2009, 10:04 AM
My favorite breakfast dish is lobster fried up with scrambled eggs.

Preheat the frying pan, put in a half dozen eggs, add one 1-1/4 lb live Maine lobster, cover tightly and cook on medium heat for ten minutes.
The lobster will scramble the eggs, add salt and butter to taste.

Enjoy...

rbgarr
10-03-2009, 10:39 AM
I often get the extra lobster so I can have the lobster scrambled eggs the next morning. Decadent!! :D

Mrleft8
10-04-2009, 08:10 AM
I do have to point out i just dont understand you folks east. why would you cook something with the innards still in?

Ever eat a clam?

PatCox
10-04-2009, 08:43 PM
I'm just gonna say, that fresh caribean stone crab is my all time favorite, beats even good maine lobster.

I loved them before, but I really fell in love when I took my first vacation in the Bahamas last winter, I went to Abaco.

Stone crab claws are always cooked as soon as caught, and shipped and distributed cooked. The ones we get up here in the northeast, out in the hinterlands where I live, on the rare occasions they are available, are not the best. And they cost $20 a pound and upwards.

Then I spent a week in Abaco. Oh My God. First of all, they were fresher, when we would go looking for them, often, the shopkeeper would say "come back tomorrow, my brother-in-law's boat is coming in. Same story with the lobster, too, not always available, but when it was, fresh off the boat.

Then there was the size, I have never seen them so big up here, the biggest, 2 or 3 claws to the pound. Then there was the price, the smaller ones, what we thought were big here in NJ, were $10 a pound, the huge ones were $15 a pound, and worth every every penny.

Lobster ran $10 a pound, and the freshest. I loved it there.

And Conch seviche is in my top 5 foods ever, as well, nothing better with ice cold beer in the hot sun for lunch.

Captain Blight
10-04-2009, 08:49 PM
Shell the tails, shell the claws, poach them in whole butter. About 20 minutes at maybe 170*F will do the trick. That's how Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry does his; I've been given to believe he knows a thing or two about food.

I've only tried it once, but the results were absolutely fantastic.

Bob Adams
10-04-2009, 08:51 PM
How about the screaming, do they do that?

I don't know, but I'm waiting for the local PETA representitive to chime in any time now.:rolleyes:

Phillip Allen
10-04-2009, 08:55 PM
Well, that's good to hear. ;)

Sam...one has to have lungs in order to scream

other than that obvious bit...what would happen if the "industry" decided to start boiling cows to death? or lambs? or chickens...?

doorstop
10-05-2009, 01:30 AM
I dunno about your Yankee lobsters but down here we drown them in fresh water and once they have carked it we gut 'em. We then cook the buggers in salty water, the purists cook in sea water. Me? I just chuck a handful of water softener salt in the copper first.
Do not overcook!!
The meat will be much more tender if they are dead before cooking.
The meat will be untainted by the gut cooking with it.
My 2 bobs worth..

Mrleft8
10-05-2009, 07:53 AM
You cook dead lobster? That explains alot!!!! :D

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-05-2009, 08:04 AM
Every lobster I've ever eaten was dead;), but I know what you mean.


I cannot say as much. Some of the lobsters and crayfish that I have eaten were very much alive.

Mrleft8
10-05-2009, 08:07 AM
Yetch!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-05-2009, 08:48 AM
Live lobster or crayfish sashimi is a very popular dish in modern China.

As you might expect it originates in Japan, but the Chinese have taken to it in a big way.

Take a large lobster or crayfish and with an extremely sharp cleaver cut open the top of the carapace exposing the tail muscle. Using the cleaver, cut the muscle into strips.

Place on a board and serve; the animal cannot move other than forlornly to wave its clippers and feelers and the diners can use their chopsticks to help themselves.

Mrleft8
10-05-2009, 08:51 AM
<Retch!>

Phillip Allen
10-05-2009, 09:24 AM
Live lobster or crayfish sashimi is a very popular dish in modern China.

As you might expect it originates in Japan, but the Chinese have taken to it in a big way.

Take a large lobster or crayfish and with an extremely sharp cleaver cut open the top of the carapace exposing the tail muscle. Using the cleaver, cut the muscle into strips.

Place on a board and serve; the animal cannot move other than forlornly to wave its clippers and feelers and the diners can use their chopsticks to help themselves.

what a nice animal we are...I haven't heard of deer hunters doing this and yet the lobster eaters revile us for it

marshcat
10-05-2009, 09:36 AM
There are certainly lobster-eater-revilers. Even if you aren't one (which I am not), Consider the Lobster (http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2004/08/consider_the_lobster) is a great read:

The lobster eater reviling stuff starts on page 4. David Foster Wallace was a great writer. He also wrote an essay about the terrible time he had on a mega ship cruise, in his collection "A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again."

Popeye
10-05-2009, 09:38 AM
cold water atlantic lobster

there is no try , only do or do not

Paul Pless
10-05-2009, 12:58 PM
Shell the tails, shell the claws, poach them in whole butter. About 20 minutes at maybe 170*F will do the trick. That's how Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry does his; I've been given to believe he knows a thing or two about food.

I've only tried it once, but the results were absolutely fantastic.if you'd like to try it again let me know and i'll be on my way