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How to Eat a New England Lobster

  • 3 min read

If you've ever been to New England, chances are you've had one of our rightly famous lobsters. If you're from around here you've probably had dozens of them, and it wouldn't be New England if there weren't just as many ways to take them down.

We went straight to the source at Captain Marden's Seafood, our favorite local fish shop and wholesale supplier to the best restaurants, to get the skinny on the real way to eat a lobster. Chef Geoff Janowski gave us a blow by blow demo of how to extract every last morsel of the sweet deliciousness. 

You can see Chef Geoff demonstrate his technique here:

How to Eat a Lobster

Then follow this tried and true recipe for a perfect New England lobster boil.

New England Lobster Boil Basics

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 4 x 1 1/4 lb. lobsters 
  • 4 x ears of corn, shucked
  • 4 lbs. steamer clams, cherrystones, or mussels
  • 2 lbs. baby new potatoes 
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1/4 lb. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 lb salt (for water boil)

Preparation

  • Fill a large stockpot with 1 gallon of water, add 1/4 lb. salt. Water should cover lobsters, and pot should be large enough to hold corn, potatoes and shellfish as well. Bring to a boil.
  • Place potatoes in a small saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes until they're parboiled.
  • Plunge the lobsters head first into the pot of boiling water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the shells are bright red.
  • Add the clams, cherrystones or mussels to the pot of lobsters, then add the corn and parboiled potatoes and cover. When the water has come back to a boil, cook for 5 - 7 minutes more. When the pot is boiling, crack the lid a bit to avoid a boil-over.
  • Check to be sure that the corn is cooked, potatoes are tender and the shellfish have all opened. Discard any mollusks that do not open.
  • Serve with sliced lemons, melted butter, and lots of napkins!

How to Eat a Lobster

  • Allow the lobsters to cool so you can handle them comfortably (you can plunge them into an ice water bath if you're eager to get going).
  • Hold the tail section firmly in one hand and twist the body to remove the tail.
  • Next, separate the claws by pulling them from the body where the arms meet the underside of the lobster. Set the body aside for picking at later, or reserve for making stock.
  • Grasp the swimmer fins at the end of the tail firmly, and bend them backwards to separate them from the tail. Set aside.
  • Firmly squeeze the outer side of the tail to crack the ribs along the underside of the tail.
  • Turn the tail over and press outward (the opposite direction as the last squeeze) with both hands to crack the ribs open and split the tail shell apart. 
  • Pull the tail from the top of the cracked shell intact. Voila! A perfect tail!
  • Next, the claws. Remove the knuckles and arms and set them aside for a minute.
  • Chef Geoff uses the blunt (backside) of a heavy chefs knife to crack and then give a sharp twist to open the claws (see the video link above), but that can be a bit off-putting at a dinner table. Instead, we use a simple nutcracker to crack the claw about a third of the way up the claw- squeeze hard! Until the cracked claw can be pulled off.
  • Break off the "ripper" claw (the small one), and slide the meat out from the bottom of the shell. Often you can get it out intact, but if not- no worries. It's delicious in any form.
  • Last but not least, we turn our attention to the knuckles, where some of the sweetest meat can be found. Using a small fork, or even better, a small knife with a blunt pointed tip (oyster knives are great!) scoop the meat out of each arm section.
  • Don't forget the butter and lemon!
  1. Lobster Eating Step 1 Separating the Tail Lobster Eating Step 2 Separating the Tail Lobster Eating Step 3 Separating the Tail 
  2. Lobster Eating Step 5 Cracking the Tail Lobster Eating Step 6 Cracking the Tail Lobster Eating Step 7 Cracking the Tail
  3. Lobster Eating Step 8 Cracking the Claw Lobster Eating Step 9 Cracking the Claw Lobster Eating Step 10 Cracking the Claw
  4. Lobster Eating Step 11 Cracking the Knuckle Lobster Eating Step 13 Cracking the Knuckle Lobster Eating Step 14 The Butter