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Every winter when I feel like I’m particularly broke and miserable and I just want it to end, I head to the local fishmonger and blow a bunch of money on a lobster that is completely out of season. This entire practice is just so indicative of someone who is a complete New Englander, what with our long snowy winters and delicious lobsters.

Lobsters aren’t seasonal per se, but they are much cheaper between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The truth is, however, that hard shell lobsters are most easily found in the Spring. There is lots of information all over the internet as to why this is, but all you need to know is that a hard shell lobster feels firm when you squeeze slightly and makes for less chewy meat. Armed with this information, I figured that making these in early March isn’t the worst time.

The only fresh lobsters are live lobsters, and the best ones are spritely and healthy with an ardent will to break as you steam them alive. So let’s meet the couple we’re having for dinner, bwahaha. And yes, I mean that in a creepy Vincent Price sort of way.

This is Roberta.

Roberta, (aka Bobster)

We nicknamed her Bobster.

This is Shelly, for obvious reasons.

Shelly.

They became great friends when they were roommates in that tank.

Best buds.

Alright ladies, get comfortable in that strainer.

Lobstahs!

We don’t boil lobsters around here, we steam them, because boiling a huge pot of water takes for-freakin-ever, and steaming results in a less water-logged shell. Just an inch of water in a huge pot does the trick. Then steam for awhile depending on the pounds of lobster—for two 1.25 lb lobsters this amounts to about 12 minutes. You’ll need an unnaturally large pot.

Big pot.Top the pot.

And look! One of the prettiest colours in New England.

Lobstahs!

As with all delicacies, there is a catch. If you aren’t disgusted by the spiderlike appearance of these ocean bottom dwellers, you probably still understand that disassembling a lobster can be quite the undertaking without a good plan of attack, but it’s actually easier than it would seem with some handy instructions. First, twist off both claws.

Claw twist
Ta da!

Now twist off the tail.

What a twist!
Ignore the gross part.

Tail meat is a cinch, you just pull off the flippers at the end of the tail and insert your finger there to push out the meat from the top. This picture doesn’t illustrate it very well, but that’s the deal.

Lobstahs!

The claws are the real tough part here. They require a lobster cracker and I use a pair of kitchen scissors (ones I don’t mind putting in the dishwasher after the fact) to help myself out.

Action shot!
Lobstahs!

Lobster meat is much more lovely away from all that mess, and after being rinsed in room-temperature water.

Red meat.

Lobstahs!

Every time I’ve had lobster at home I’ve pulled it apart and tossed the meat into a bowl of melted butter as I went. By the time I was done the corn on the cob had cooled and soon my chin was dripping with butter as I sighed satisfied with eyes closed and a crustacean appendage entering my mouth. I understand that this scenario is only appealing to people who have experienced it, and I apologize for grossing out everyone else.

This time around I thought I’d actually *make* something with my lobster and treat it like the delicacy it is. Turns out that a particularly delicious use is Lobster Newburg, which is essentially a sherry-cream sauce that elegantly replaces the traditional serving suggestion of “float all this shit in bowl of melted butter.”

Here we go.

The beginnings of the newburg part.

Before the cream is added, we coat our lobster bits with spices and butter.

Buttering with paprika.

Finally, the cream part comes into play and we serve the Lobster Newburg with arugula, which has a peppery taste that complements the sauce SO WELL. In fact, I ate this a lot like a salad. But the traditional garnish is watercress and baby spinach would work as well.

Lobster newburg. Done.

Lobster Newburg

The meat from 2 x 1-1.5 lb lobsters, rinsed with lukewarm water (about 6 oz)
1 c light cream, half and half, or fat free half and half
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c dry sherry
3 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
Arugula for garnish and eating (my highest preference, but watercress is more traditional and even baby spinach makes a nice substitute)

To steam the lobsters
Fill your largest pot with about an inch of water and bring to a boil. Using either a rack that fits in over the water line or a steaming basket, place the lobsters in the pot, tail down first, and lid immediately. Continue to boil over high heat for 12-15 minutes.

If you don’t have a rack or steam basket, you can put the lobster right in the water, but keep an eye on those claws and make sure they don’t get black, which means they’re overcooked (yes, one of my lobsters in the picture was overcooked, it was the one on the bottom).

To make the newburg part
Heat the half and half in pan over medium heat, making sure not to scald it. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with salt and sherry. Add the egged-sherry to the half and half, whisk, and cook over low heat until thickened enough to coat a spoon. This should take 6-8 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and add paprika and pepper. Add lobster meat to coat, then pour the cream/sherry mixture and heat thoroughly.

Serve with arugula, watercress or baby spinach. Melt into a puddle of satisfaction.

  1. naomi Said,

    I have such guilt issues with lobster. I love them but I feel horrible about the boiling alive part, that and they mate for life. It doesn’t help that every time we walk past the lobster tank at Shop Rite, my daughter says, “Oh, that’s sooo sad.” Ugh. I’m like this weird wanna be vegetarian who’s too much of a foodie to give up on meat. I have to say your pics look lovely as always :)

  2. One Food Guy Said,

    MMmmm lobster! I’ve been making a great summer lobster feast for the last couple of years. First, par cook the lobsters by steaming them for about five minutes. Next, add some potatoes to the pot where the lobsters were steaming and steam them. Split the lobsters in half and grill them over hot coals, or a gasser if that’s your pleasure. While the lobsters are getting happy on the grill, whip together a quick basil vinaigrette, toss with some arugula and the steamed potatoes, and drizzle over the lobsters when off the grill. Happy Eating! Check it out http://onefoodguy.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-i-did-on-my-summer-vacation.html

  3. zee Said,

    a neet trick for the tail: cross your fingers, almost like you are praying [crossed finger style, not straight handed style] then the tail goes in your hands, bottom toward you, tail fins down. squeeze and it will break the cartilage on the bottom of the tail, then with your thumbs, pull it apart, and viola, the tail meat will pretty much fall out on your plate.

    i also agree, as much as i love lobster, i’m not sure about the boiling alive part either. i’ve looked up ways to kill lobsters, and i don’t really believe them. e.g. most describe a method of cutting the main body in half, but looking at numerous videos on youtube, it looks like these half lobsters are totally alive. claws and feet are waving all over the place. a dead brain makes twitching, not waving. the only thing i’ve seen is a device called a crustastun [http://crustastun.com/] in which you immerse the lobster in a saline solution and then electrocute them. apparently many whole foods have them, and you can have your lobster killed at the time of purchase. i’d personally like to have one at home, and kill them right before i plop them in the pot, but even the small one is really expensive.

    a last note: thank you, aleta for pointing out that lobsters are not to be boiled. boiling anything removes flavor and nutrients from it. unless you are making broth or soup, just say no to boiling!

  4. stephchows Said,

    Man I’m craving some nice fresh lobster now!! I love it, but am such a pansy and can’t bring myself to cook them. I was in cape cod this summer and ordered it out every night (who me??? an expensive date??) I always end up just eating them with butter It’s so good!!!!! I’m going to have to convince my friend to make me some… he had no issues cooking them :) Or maybe I just need to man up and do it!

  5. Travis Cotton Said,

    Lobsters do not mate for life. The male lobster is quite the prolific “dater”. Not sure where you heard they mate for life but its not true. Some research shows an episode of Friends where that’s mentioned but its not true.

    http://beachchairscientist.wordpress.com/2008/11/25/do-lobsters-mate-for-life/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_lobster

    http://www.gma.org/lobsters/allaboutlobsters/society.html

    Steaming or boiling something alive is weird but most processed animals go through worse imo.

    Im not a huge lobster fan but this meal looks good. My two boys would enjoy the steaming alive portion of the show and my daughters would probably cry. Then eat.

    Ill bookmark this to try this summer.

  6. siri Said,

    What a bunch of kick ass photos- my personal favorite would be the two lobster friends emerging from their death. If lobster went for less than $100 bucks a pound here in Norway, I would totally make this. -Siri

  7. Esi Said,

    You make it look so easy… Do the lobsters scream when you steam them? I have heard that which is one of the reasons I haven’t tried it yet, but I am hearing the price of lobster is a bargain now, so maybe I will have to do it!

  8. Nicole Said,

    I love your blog! Great recipes & pictures. I gave you an award on my blog ;-)

  9. Amanda Said,

    Good grieves, I want to go out right now and have some lobster. A nice big juicy one that isn’t eyeing me all weirdly when I attempt to steam the bejeezus out of it. I don’t know if lobster is in season here…

    You should make a lobster salad with the leftovers.

  10. dot Said,

    This is fabulous… I’ve recently discovered your blog (probably from your rainbow cake) and I’m really enjoying it!

    I’ll be linking to this today on dabbled.org

    dot

  11. Hooper Said,

    You are barbaric and gross

  12. Furey and the Feast by Cynthia Furey » Blog Archive » Link love: Meat edition Said,

    [...] Omnomicon (great name) posts about how to properly disassemble lobster, making examples out of Bobster and Shelly. [...]

  13. lo Said,

    Great globs of yum. You’ve got me seriously craving lobster, my dear.
    Even if I have to disassemble it myownself :) Totally worth it.

  14. jim Said,

    I’m glad to read that someone else steams their lobsters too, so many times I see people talk about boiling and the impatience in me screams – steaming is just as effective!

    If you fancy a different taste to your lobster, try dipping it in a bit of vinegar and ginger for a tangy sweet flavor you might find yourself enjoying more than butter. :)

  15. RecipeGirl Said,

    I’m not even hungry, but you have me simply drooling w/ this post. We are big time visitors of New England and we LOVE our lobstah!!

  16. Deseree Said,

    Lobster tends to be really expensive here where I live so I have never made Lobster at home before but you make it look so easy and delicious that I might have to break down and get me some. Thanks!

  17. Sam Said,

    lobsters don’t scream when you cook them, its just the air escaping through holes in the shell (think of it more as whistling)

  18. Viper the mystery cook Said,

    I have to say, the recipie is absolutely wonderful, made it tonight and I almost cried it was so good…

    But no what I really wanna say is your photography, each shot looks GORGEOUS like something you’d see in a cook book, I really admire you for that

    -Viper

  19. Amber Said,

    That looks absolutely delish! If only lobster was cheaper here in WI :( totally has me craving some right now!

  20. kaos Said,

    Take your biggest knife, put the tip of the blade above the brain, and press down hard, splitting the head in two before you cook the lobster. That way it’ll be dead, and it’s the most ‘humane’ way of killing it. I think I’ll prefer being braindead before boiled or steamed alive… ;-)

  21. ed racz Said,

    A little trick after your lobster has been steaming: chop off the tips of the claws immediately, and drain out the water. This will keep the meat from cooking any more. You’ll be surprised at the difference in the quality of the claw meat. Happy eating!

  22. Ani Said,

    I just found your blog yesterday & am loving it. I find a lot of food/cooking blogs too prim & proper…as if Martha Stewart is going to see their blog, give them a job & let them kiss her ass all day. Yours, is a bit more candid…a bit more like a good friend trying out new recipes & sharing her wisdom.

    I esp. love this entry. I’m Canadian, residing on the East Coast [Nova Scotia] & “floating all this shit in bowl of melted butter” is an art form here ;) Business has been slow for Canadian fisherman supplying lobster to the states due to the economy, so they’ve started selling right out of the back of their truck locally…lobster is about $5 a pound…cheapest it’s been in 20 years. Hope to get some before the holidays are over! & plan to give this recipe a shot…so thanks!

  23. Hillary Said,

    I will be making this tonight! My husband now has a “lobstah guy” and we bought $50 worth of lobster at $3 a pound! We steamed them all last night and pulled all the meat. So we will be having Lobster 20 Ways for the next few days! Thanks for posting – great pics and commentary!!

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