How to Choose the Right Size Lobster for Your Needs
The ideal size lobster is a 1 3/4lb to a 2 1/2lb lobster if that is the main feature on your plate, however there are many other sizes of lobster and it can be overwhelming for the novice buyer so we usually break it down like this:
If you have a few sides and no other protein go with the 2lb lobster and most people will be very happy with that. If you have many other sides then go smaller, even perhaps a 1 1/2lb lobster which are very common in restaurant lobster dinners. If you are going to have another protein go even smaller, maybe a 1 1/4lb or even a 1lb lobster depending on the size of your other protein. Now for bigger than a 2lb lobster like a 3lb-4lb lobster you can look at it in many ways. One way is that you are going to share one lobster among your friends or loved ones, then you have to decide how many people are going to eat that lobster. Two people will do well with a 3lb lobster and three people would require maybe a 4lb lobster and so on until you get to our biggest which are normally around 10lbs, however we have had a lobster as big as 20lbs in our store. There are also the traditional aspects to the lobster which will delegate the size, for example the traditional Chinese fashion of cooking lobster is to chop it up (shell and all), coat it with a batter and deep fry the pieces. Generally you would use a 4lb-6lb pound lobster for that method.
How to Cook a Lobster
There are many ways to cook a lobster but we are going to focus on two of the most common ways.
- Steam Method
This is a very easy way to cook a lobster. In a large pot add an inch or two of water. Add salt to the water and bring to a boil. Place the fresh lobster into the pot, cover with a lid and wait. Steaming takes a few more minutes than boiling.
- Cook times for Steaming Lobster
18 minutes for a one pound lobster then 2 additional minutes for every 1/4 pound larger. For example a 1 1/2lb lobster will take 22 minutes to cook and a 2lb lobster will take approximately 26 minutes to cook.
- Boil Method
Bring a pot of salty water to a boil, generally the saltier the better. Place the fresh lobster in the boiling water, cover the pot and wait.
- Cook times for Boiling Lobster
15 minutes for a 1lb lobster and one and a half minutes for every 1/4lb increase. For example a 1 1/2lb lobster will take 18 minutes to cook and a 2lb lobster will take approximately 21 minutes to cook.
***Please note that those times are for the SIZE of the lobster not the quantity or total weight of lobster in the pot. For example the cook time for 1lb – 2lb lobster is 21 minutes when boiling and the cook time for three 2lb lobster all in the same pot is also 21 minutes.
The best way to tell if a lobster is cooked is obviously by its colour. When it is fully red it is a sign that it is done, however as a second check try to lift the lobster gently by its antennae. If the antennea detaches easily then the lobster is done.
How to Eat a Lobster
The easiest way to remove the meat from a lobster is with the proper lobster utensils (crackers and picks) which are available for purchase at Maritime Lobster Ltd. or your local kitchen store. When you have a cooked lobster in front of you start breaking it down by first removing the tail, pull and twist. Remove the knuckles and claws also by pulling and twisting off. You should have four pieces of the lobster, one tail, two sets of knuckle and claw and the body.
To remove the meat from the tail use your lobster shears to cut through the shell lengthwise from the big open side to the fins on the bottom of the tail, cut length wise from open side to the fins and pull out the meat. Easy. Make sure you take the vein out, it runs along the top of the tail just under the meat.
To remove the meat from the claws you must separate the claw from the knuckles, again pull and twist, and remove the thumb from the claw by just pulling it back. From here use your lobster crackers and open the claw on the fattest part of the shell just like a nut cracker. Use the lobster picks to pull the meat out.
To remove the meat from the thumb also use the lobster picks and dig it out.
To remove the meat from the knuckles tear the knuckles apart at the joints (there are two joints per knuckle). The easiest way to do that is to make a cut in the soft part of the joint before trying to rip them apart and extract the meat with the lobster picks.
In The Body
Inside the body is a greenish paste like portion also known as the tomalley, it is edible ?but some say it is an acquired taste. To get at it, pull the large shell cap away from the rest of the body. There is good meat inside the small legs as well but that requires being primitive to get at, you have to chew it out. There is also meat between the ribs of the body but that requires some digging as well.