Our Guide To Lobster
Lobster is undoubtedly one of the finest culinary experiences a seafood gourmet could have. Many people will have only eaten lobster dishes in a restaurant so the thought of cooking lobster recipes at home can be challenging. This is our one-stop guide to types of lobster, lobster recipes, how to eat lobster, lobster dishes and how to cook lobster.
The three main lobster species
British lobster (Homarus gammarus) – also commonly known in the UK as a ‘native lobster’. British lobsters are in season throughout the summer months and are landed nationwide. I was told today by an experienced lobster fisherman that the best time to catch lobsters is during the Wimbledon fortnight, after that, they crawl back to where they came from. We buy most of our native lobsters from Cornish or Scottish seafood merchants between June – September. You can buy native lobster outside of the summer months, but be prepared to pay huge prices for the luxury.
American lobster / Maine lobster – (Homarus americanus) – Maine in the USA has an international reputation for their lobster export industry. Their export quality of lobster is high and thankfully they maintain a steady supply. This secondary supply of lobster feeds the demand when we are supplying you out of the UK season.
‘Rock Lobster’ or ‘Caribbean spiny lobster’ – (Palinuridae) – we buy our rock lobsters from the Caribbean, our most recent batch were a fine box from the Bahamas. Generally, we sell rock lobster tails, it’s much more efficient than sending out a whole lobster and most rock lobster recipes are lobster tail recipes. A rock lobster does not have claws like American or British lobsters, so the main prize is in the tail. In the southern hemisphere, they sometimes refer to them as ‘crayfish’, in the northern hemisphere, crayfish is the term used for the little hand sized freshwater crustaceans.
How to cook lobster
Methods can vary significantly depending on the lobster dish you are trying to create. Whilst we do not sell live lobster, we thought it would be useful to equip you with the knowledge of how to kill, cook and then prepare a lobster.
Dispatching a live lobster
Using a sharp knife, push the tip through the lobster’s body shell about 2cm back from the eyes. Once the tip of the blade is touching the board, roll the force of the knife down towards the board so that the sharp edge splits the shell between the lobster’s eyes. This will kill the lobster immediately.
Cooking a raw lobster
Bring a deep wide pot of water to the boil. Place your lobster in the boiling water and place a lid on the pot. A 500g lobster will take approximately 5 minutes to cook in boiling water. Use this equation to calculate how long to boil your lobster for.
Preparing a cooked lobster
Remove the claws from the lobster’s body: Twist the lobster claws and knuckle joint to remove them from the body.
Split the tail and body: Twist the tail and body in opposite directions. You may need to rinse the top of the tail meat to get rid of any unwanted gut that remains on the white meat.
Accessing the meat: Split the lobster tail in half down the centre of the back to expose two pearly white sides of lobster meat. We advise using a lobster pick to access the sweet meat in the knuckle. Unfortunately, getting the meat cleanly out of the cooked lobster claw is the most difficult exercise. Start by removing the small moving lower pincer by bending it backwards. Then using the back of a heavy knife tap the centre of the lobster claw firmly on the shell until it cracks in a horizontal line across the shell. The cracked part of the shell should now be easy to remove and expose half of the cooked claw meat. Gently pull the claw from within the shell. Once the meat is extracted, feel for the cartilage disc in the middle of the claw and work it out with some kitchen pliers.
Jamie Oliver’s handy video on prepping a cooked lobster
- Mrs Patricia Doble: “For a special supper with favourite herbs or sauce these are top class value, we like them buttery whilst my daughter spikes them with chilli”
- Mrs Miranda Worsley: “I ordered lobster for new year’s eve and it was delicious, i would certainly use the fish society again”
- Mrs Julie Bell: “Excellent Lobster Tails, Prompt Delivery, Good Customer Service.”
- Mike: “The lobster was perfect thanks. Lobster rolls with laverbread butter were praised by all. Just what was needed for a birthday treat. Mike”
- Mrs Karen LaCoursiere: “We ordered from the Fish Society for the first time for a New Years Eve Dinner. We ordered Lobster, Crab and Scrimp. Our guests keep commenting on how wonderful everything tasted. We were very impressed with the quality and taste and will definitely order again.”
Lobster thermidor recipe
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 75g/3ozs grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon English mustard
- 2 tbsps finely chopped parsley or tarragon
- 100ml/3flozs double cream
- a little cayenne pepper
- 50g/2oz butter
- 1 glass of white wine, sherry or cognac
- salt and pepper
1. Cut the cooked lobster in half length ways. Remove legs and clean underbelly, leaving torso plus head. Cut each tail lengthways. Remove meat and cut into one inch chunks.
2. Crack open claws and remove the meat. Best way: strike them with the bottom end of the blade of a heavy knife, almost as if hammering (not quite as hard).
3. Now deal with the rock lobster tails: these need to be cooked. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the tails. When the water returns to a rapid boil, turn down a little. Remove after 10 minutes. Leave to cool then treat like the red lobster tails.
4. Melt butter in a frying pan over a fairly high heat. Add shallots. Cook until soft. Add stock, and cream. Turn up heat and keep stirring until reduced by half. Now add the mustard, wine, parsley/tarragon and seasoning. Stir and blend.
5. Select four tail shells and lay them in a shallow grill-proof dish. Distribute the meat amongst them. Pour the sauce over the meat, scatter the cheese over and finish with the cayenne pepper. Finally, position your two reserved lobster heads at either end of the dish.
6. Place under a hot grill for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. It’s ready!
Jamie Oliver – “This is a cross between a burger and a BLT, and I believe everyone should have the pleasure of eating it at least once in their life. I know lobster is seen as elitist food, but in Britain we’re never that far from the shore, so you can get lobster from any decent fishmonger. I made mini burgers on the day, but have written this recipe for regular ones – the process is the same, so do whichever you prefer. I’m only using the tail meat, but feel free to use the claws, too. ”
This recipe is great to be made with lobster tail or lobster meat. They also use king prawns to increase to fish to pasta ratio. We would recommend using wild Madagascan prawn tails. Their flavour is simply unrivalled in the prawn world.
Go to Great British Chef’s to see the recipe
Some beautiful live natives arriving at Fish Palace
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