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Wednesday 9 November 2011

Learning about lobsters

Crustaceans. They are weird, right? Simultaneously, they are bloomin' yummy too. I have to confess that I am pretty clueless about cooking things with shells-on beyond the humble prawn. So, I've used my position here at Domestic Sluttery as the perfect excuse to find out more about these weird and wonderful creatures and, more importantly, how to cook with them!

Lobster is a delicacy that I am particularly fond of. So, what better place to start my shellfish odyssey?

I'm going to start with some fascinating facts:

Fascinating fact #1: A lobster is an invertebrate with an exoskeleton.
Now, I know a bit about this exoskeleton business after my daughter's recent Ugly Bug Ball birthday part which featured a tarantula amongst other creepy crawly visitors. An exoskeleton is, put simply, a skeleton on the outside. This means that, occasionally, the lobster has to shed its shell.

Fascinating fact #2: Long live the lobster - "negligible senescence"
Scientific study suggests that a lobster doesn't get fragile or less fertile with age. Actually, it is said that fertility improves as a lobster gets older. More than that, it is suggested that, so long as a lobster doesn't fall foul of some horrid disease, accident or get caught and boiled, they can live ... well ... indefinitely. Cor, this is like Twilight ... but more interesting.

Fascniating Fact #3: Heart in your mouth?
Lobsters teeth are located in their stomach. And their brains are in their throats. Weird.

Right, so now we know that lobsters can live forever and think with their throat, what about cooking these bad boys?

Lobster is super-versatile, and is popular in bisques, soups, cooked and served whole or as part of a paella, stir fry or pie. Plus, it's blooming delicious.

To cook the big old blighters, again we return to a little bit of science. Some people argue that boiling a lobster live is cruel, but many research projects actually suggest their nerve structures are too primitive to feel "pain" as we know it. Anyway, either way it's recommended to pop your crustacean pal into the freezer for ten minutes before popping him on to boil to put him to sleep.

If you're boiling your lobster, you'll expect a medium-sized one to be cooked in around 13 to 16 minutes. You can tell it's cooked when the shell turns red and you can pull the antennae off easily.

When it comes to eating, you'll find the majority of the meat in the tail and the front claws. Avoid the intestinal tract (that runs through the tail like a black piece of string). Also, it's best to avoid the sack behind the eyes and the liver (also known as the green tomalley) which is located inside the body cavity.

So, now we know a little more about the humble lobster. Bear with me and keep your eyes peeled as I intend to get cooking a crustacean for myself very soon!


  1. You might want to read this: on the question of lobster pain and lobsters in general. Pretty much the last word on the subject. Also, brilliantly written.

  2. They can live forever? Amazing.


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