Living in New England, summer just isn't complete without a trip to Maine, a bowl of clam chowder, and my very own lobster. In the spirit of National Maine Lobster Month, here is everything you need to know to enjoy this celebrated crustacean.
Besides being delicious, lobster serves as a good source of nutrition as well. A 1½-lb. lobster packs in 24 grams of protein, a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, copper, vitamin B12 and iodine. These nutrients play an important role in heart health, immunity and thyroid function.
How to pick the best
If you have the opportunity to choose your own lobster, there are some key points to consider in order to pick the best. First, look for one that is active, moving around the tank, and has a straight tail as opposed to a curled one. Next, make sure it has long antennae. Lobsters will eat each other's antennae while in a tank, so short ones are a sign the lobster has been in the tank for too long. Once the lobster is pulled out of the water, make sure that its tail is flapping. If it is not, it's a sign that the lobster is not fresh.
While boiling may be the most popular method of cooking lobster, steaming helps to retain more moisture and flavor, and is harder to overcook than boiling. Start by adding two inches of salted water to a large covered stockpot. Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the lobster, and steam 15 minutes for every 1½-pound lobster. The shells should be bright red when fully cooked.
The task of breaking down a lobster can seem a bit daunting at first, but following these simple steps will turn you into a lobster-eating pro. First, twist off the claws and crack with a nutcracker to expose the meat. Next, arch the lobster back until it cracks to separate the tail. Bend the tail back and break off the end flippers. Insert your fork into where the flippers were and push up to expose the tail meat. Unhinge the back of the lobster to reveal the green tomalley, or the liver, which is considered a delicacy by many. Open the remaining body and crack sideways to expose the remaining meat inside.
Now you are ready to enjoy one of the quintessential New England summer meals. Just be sure you have a bib and plenty of hand wipes close by.