LOBSTER 101: How to pick, prep and plate - KMSP-TV

LOBSTER 101: How to pick, prep and plate

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To celebrate National Seafood Month, Oceanaire executive chef Robert Wohlfeil shows you how to crack, clean, prep and serve lobster like a pro.

As part of the celebration, the Oceanaire is offering a special of Twin Tails for only $32.95.

General facts

• Lobster connoisseurs claim the female lobster meat is tenderer and often has the coral or eggs. The female can be identified by the limp, soft feelers that line both sides of the lobster body at the tail end. The male's feelers are rough, and the tail is also wider.

• Lobster is the sweetest meat of the three most widely-eaten crustaceans followed by crab and then shrimp. The longer a lobster sits in storage, the more its sweetness diminishes.

• Lobsters naturally have one larger forward claw, causing them to be identified as left-handed or right-handed. The meat from the smaller claw is more tender and sweeter, thus considered more succulent. The larger claw has more meat which may not be quite as tender, but still a delightful and treasured taste sensation.

How to select

• When purchasing a live lobster to cook at home, be certain it is indeed alive and lively. Although you may be able to choose a live lobster from a tank, there is no way of knowing how fresh it is unless you ask. Lobsters can be held in tanks for two to three weeks, growing weaker and less desirable within the cramped living space.

• When choosing a lobster, pick it up by its sides. The tail should immediately curl and tuck up under its body. Tugging on the tail should produce the same reaction. The pincers should be restrained with an elastic band as the lobster is a cannibal and will eat its own kind.

• Fresh lobster should always be live or frozen. Absolute freshness is a must.

• When buying a whole cooked lobster, look for bright shiny eyes, firm flesh, a pleasant aroma and curled tail. The curled tail indicates it was alive when cooked. Lobster is also available frozen and canned. Canned lobster comes in chunks, bits and a spread.

Tips for storing lobster

• After buying a live lobster, be sure to get it in the refrigerator covered with a damp cloth as soon as possible and cook within 12 to 18 hours. Do not let it sit out at room temperature for more than half an hour and never put a live lobster in fresh water for storage purposes.

• Cooked lobster should be refrigerated and consumed within two days.

• Whole cooked lobster may be easily frozen. Place it in a plastic bag, squeeze out as much of the air as possible and seal tightly. Frozen lobster should be eaten within one month.

How to prepare

• Allow 12 minutes cooking time for the first pound when boiling and an extra minute for every additional quarter pound.

• In a big pot, boil water sufficient to cover your lobster. Add salt to taste. Place your lobster headfirst into the boiling water. Cover the pot. The water will go off the boil and then slowly return. You can start the lobsters in cold water but do not begin timing until the water comes to a boil.

• When it does, set your timer: Petite 1 - 1.24 lb. lobster (9-10 minutes); Special 1.25 - 1.44 lb. lobster (11-12 minutes); Deluxe 1.45 - 1.69 lb. lobster (12-13 minutes); Supreme 1.70 - 1.95 lb. (14-15 minutes).

• TIP: When using frozen cooked lobster, do not defrost first. It will retain more flavor.

• The outside of the shell of the perfectly cooked lobster will be red to pink. The meat inside the tail should be white and firm. If it is translucent or clear – back into the boiling water with it for another minute, or until it looks as it should.

• After boiling whole lobsters, pierce the head to let the boiling water drain out.

• Lobster will become tough when overcooked. When the meat turns opaque, it is done and should be immediately removed from heat.

How to crack

• There is no dainty way to crack and eat whole lobster. Cut lengthwise through the underside of the tail with scissors. Don't cut the meat, just the shell underneath. Also, crack the claws ahead of time, just to save some of the pounding at the table.

• Be sure to provide bibs for your guests!

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
50 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: 612-333-2277


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11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

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