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Lobster: how to cook it, shell it and prepare it like a pro

The lobster fishing season has finally begun. Since the beginning of May, fishermen have been working tirelessly to bring us these delicious shellfish.

Which region or province provides the best lobster?

Year after year, the debate rages on. One thing is certain, Quebec’s is no match for the Maritimes or Maine.

how to cook it, shell it and prepare it like a pro

For your next meals where this crustacean will be in the spotlight, we have put together a little guide about lobster:

  1. Lobster traceability
  2. How to cook a lobster to perfection
  3. Useful accessories for a lobster meal
  4. How to cut a lobster in 2 lengthwise (thermidor way)
  5. How to shell a cooked lobster
  6. Our suggestions of wines that go well with lobster meat.

Lobster from Gaspésie, traceable from the ocean to the plate

Lobster from Gaspésie

Once again this year, the Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du Sud de la Gaspésie has resumed its lobster traceability program.

Thus, each lobster caught in Gaspésie is identified with a blue medallion attached around one of its claws.

This medallion contains an alphanumeric code which, once entered on the site, will allow you to learn more about the people who fished it via a small video that presents the fishermen, their fishing area, the name of the captain of the boat and the fishing method used.

The southern Gaspé lobster fishery is also certified as sustainable and well-managed under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) international scientific certification program.

Careful! If the lobster does not wear this rubber band, it is because it was not fished in the waters of Gaspésie.

Cooking lobster

Live lobster

Before we begin, here are a few tips given to us by Executive Chef Baptiste Peupion during an evening of tasting Gaspesian lobster at the Marché Artisans of the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth.

How to “put a lobster to sleep” before cooking it?

It sometimes happens that a lobster is too vigorous and moves a little too much, which makes it hasardous to put in boiling water. Or you can also have qualms about cooking it alive. To put it to sleep, just keep it in the refrigerator or even put it in the freezer for a few minutes.

How do you hold a live lobster so you don’t get pinched?

Note that you should hold a live lobster by the back, especially if it has no elastic after its claws. Thus, it will not be able to pinch you with these.

This is how you hold a lobster so that it doesn't reach you with its claws
This is how you hold a lobster so that it doesn’t reach you with its claws

How to prevent a cooked lobster from becoming rubbery?

Once the cooking is done, plunge the lobster in salted cold water to stop the cooking. It also prevents the lobster meat from getting a “rubbery” texture.

How to store a cooked lobster?

Once cooked, lobster can be kept for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen, without shelling it.

Does the size of the lobster change its taste?

The size of the lobster does not have an incidence on the taste. It’s rather the thickness and hardness of its carapace that will change.

How to cook a lobster to perfection

All about lobster

Here are two easy ways to cook lobster, boiled or steamed.

Boiled lobster

  1. In a large pot, bring generously salted water to a boil (about 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt per cup of water). Put enough water so that the lobsters are covered when you put them in the pot.
  2. When the water boils, remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws and place them in the pot.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. When the water comes back to a boil, allow 10 to 12 minutes for a 1-pound lobster and 1 minute more cooking time for each additional quarter-pound.

Steamed lobster

This is personally my favorite way to cook lobster because it keeps its flavors better.

  1. In a large pot, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Generously salt the water (1 to 2 teaspoons of salt per cup of water).
  2. Remove the elastic from the claws of each lobster. When the water boils, place the lobsters one on top of the other in the pan, putting the biggest ones at the bottom.
  3. Replace the lid and bring to a boil.
  4. When the water comes back to a boil, calculate 12 to 14 minutes of cooking time for one-pound lobsters and 1 minute more for each additional quarter-pound.

Useful accessories for a lobster meal

How to cut a lobster in 2 lengthwise

Here is a very practical technique if you want to make grilled lobsters or Thermidor.

Here are the steps:

  1. Place lobster flat on a cutting board.
  2. Place the tip of the knife in the center of the head (you should notice a small indentation there).
  3. Push the knife blade into this area. The tip of the blade should pierce the lobster completely.
  4. Slice the lobster to the end of the tail.
  5. Return the tip of the knife to the starting point and cut the head off in one clean stroke.

How to shell a lobster

To shell a lobster, it is also quite simple. I leave you with this video that details the steps. No loss, no damage!

Pro tip: coral powder

Dried and powdered lobster coral

Not fond of lobster coral or don’t know what to do with it? Baptiste Peupion suggests drying it slowly in the oven, at about 250-350 degrees F, until it turns red and with a grainy texture. You can then grind it into powder.

This coral powder will enhance your dishes in no time, it is fine and very aromatic. Sprinkle on your salads, pasta dishes and lobster bisque!

Wine suggestions to accompany your lobster

White wines that pair well with lobster
White wines that pair well with lobster
Photo: SAQ

Here are 4 white wines, recently discovered, that will be excellent with lobster.

1. Coteau Rougemont Le Versant Blanc: this white wine has a nice acidity, with notes of pear and honey as well as a hint of minerality, perfect to accompany lobster(SAQ).

2. Inniskillin Niagara Estate Series Pinot Grigio 2017: this light pinot, with mineral, green apple and citrus notes, will go hand in hand with lobster(SAQ).

3. Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough: with its tropical fruit aromas and vegetal notes, this sauvignon goes well with boiled or steamed lobster as well as lightly lemony dishes(SAQ).

4. Coteau Rougemont La Plage Chardonnay 2017: aged on lees in concrete and stainless steel tanks, this is a fruity wine with a nice roundness. Great with lobster salad or dishes with a touch of citrus(SAQ).

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