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Topic: Kitchen Tips

How to Eat a Lobster | Expert Advice

Lobster eating is not for the dainty; you’re going to get your hands deliciously dirty. Here's how to eat a lobster from a family of Maine lobster experts.

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Terri Nunan and her family own Nunan’s Lobster Hut in Kennebunkport, Maine, so they know a thing or two about lobster etiquette. Here are Terri Nunan’s expert’s tips on how to eat a lobster.

How to Eat a Lobster | Expert Advice

How to Eat a Lobster | Expert Advice

Michael Piazza

Much of Terri Nunan’s life has revolved around lobster. Her father was a lobsterman, she married a lobsterman, and in between, in 1974 at age 14 she took a job at Nunan’s Lobster Hut in her hometown of Kennebunkport, Maine, where she worked under Bertha Nunan, her future mother-in-law and one of Maine’s most beloved lobster cooks. Today, Terri owns Nunan’s Lobster Hut with her husband, Richard, and in-laws Keith and Kim Nunan. She also still loves lobster. “I could eat it every day,” she says. “It’s just got such a nice taste to it. If you’re in Maine, you have to try it.”

HOW TO EAT A LOBSTER

Lobster_ToolsTools of the Trade

Lobster eating is not for the dainty; you’re going to get your hands deliciously dirty. But it helps to have a few tools at your side. Actually, just two: a picker and a cracker. One retrieves the meat from those hard-to-get-to spots—legs and knuckles—while the other breaks the shell, especially for the tougher hardshell lobsters. Inexpensive kits that include a picker and a cracker can be picked up at a grocery or department store for under $10.

Lobster_BodyworkThe Tail

Your biggest and sweetest reward comes with the tail. Get at the meat by first grabbing hold of the body with one hand, the tail with the other, and then twisting in opposite directions to break the two sections apart. Next, stick your thumb under the bottom of the tail and push out. A long column of white meat should emerge at the other end. Peel back the vein that runs along its back side, dip the meat in butter, and enjoy.

Lobster_ClawsClaws & Knuckles

Nunan says that for many lobster newbies, the meat in the claws and the knuckles, in particular, often goes undiscovered. “I find that Southerners almost never look for it,” she says. “They’re used to crawfish, and crawfish don’t have knuckles.” A lobster has two different claws: a pincher and a crusher. Both have meat inside them. You can get at it by breaking open the claw with your cracker, then pulling the meat out. At each of the claw’s two knuckles, crack open the shell, then pull the meat out with a picker or a fork.

Body Work

Perhaps the most time- consuming part of picking a lobster involves the body. In fact, Nunan says, most people just forgo it; even some experienced lobster eaters set it aside. Begin by snapping off the legs from the body and then snapping each one—there are usually six—in half. You can either suck the meat out or follow Nunan’s preferred method of using a pick. As for the body, split it open with your thumbs, and then begin picking the areas where the legs were attached. It takes some patience, but Nunan says it’s some of the best meat found on the lobster.

Roe & Tomally

Ask a hard-core lobster fanatic what he or she eats, and invariably the conversation turns to the tomally, a soft green substance that serves as the lobster’s liver and pancreas. It may sound unsettling, but lobster veterans swear that its rich flavor is not to be missed. Others enjoy the roe (unfertilized eggs) found in a female lobster’s body, which turn red on a fully cooked crustacean. “I never eat the stuff, but my husband loves it,” Nunan says. “He’ll spread it on a cracker or a piece of toast. Not me. I couldn’t even tell you what it tastes like.”

Nunan’s Lobster Hut. 9 Mills Road, Kennebunkport, ME. 207-967-4362; nunanslobsterhut.com

Comments
  • Bello, I’m writing from Milan, Italy and would like to know if you know what the tool is used for and how it is used: I’m trying to attached the photo. Thankyou in Advance for you help

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  • Used to work for a Wholesaler, often ate Lobster for Breakfast (haha) cradle the tail in your palm and squeeze in until the “ribs” snap, then use your thumbs to pull the ribs apart no sissors, no hammers, no chinese nose pickers.. take the knuckles off the claws take a pocket knife to score into the “elbow both sides” then place the blade Across the shell strike the top of the blade with a little practice, the knuckle meat will come out in one piece from both knuckle shells, With the Claw pull the finger open and Hyperextend it it will break off, Inside there is a Bone which Normally bisects the claw meat, Holding the fingerless Claw on edge (Finger Up) on edge Place the Knife behind the finger Joint 1/4-1/3″ and Use something heavy to drive the blade into the shell 1/3″ and use a twisting Motion which will break the shell open in one crack to extract the meat….. The swimmeretts have no meat, (they are the little flaps under the tail, The LEGS are fun to suck the meat or as mentioned extract with a roller, The WHITE underbelly (LEG sockets) have quite a bit of Meat which can be picked out of the sockets with a toothpick or Nut pick just be careful as the bony parts are the same color as the meat.. for Those who do stews and soups This along with the Tamali (Green crap) and row (cooked red stuff) in the females tail is what makes the stock…. anyone up They’a know how ta tell a boy frumma Girl Lobsta just by picking them up? Look at those Tail ribs I was talking about…. ( the female carries her eggs there)

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    • One of the most important ingredient, which I never see in how to eat lobster, yet gives it the most adhanced flavor and cuts the richness of the butter is cider vinegar. Any one I have told about this would eat lobster no other way. It’s simple. When you have the melted butter, put a little cider vinegar in the butter, you’ll enjoy it. This comes from my father who was an old time lobster fisherman from Frenchboro, Me.

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  • Once you are done with the lobster, roast the shell and then boil it for stock – makes fabulous soups.

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  • In the article the woman says some lobster are cooked with the eggs. Those should not be caught. The females should always be thrown back to keep the population of the lobster going.

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  • You eat everything (Period) with a lot of beer and garlic bread. Sometimes butter or cocktail sauce but really just great on it’s own.

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  • Like you Terri Nunan, I could eat lobster every day! I love the texture and sweetness of the claw meat best of all. If, by chance, there is any left over lobster, it becomes breakfast for me the following morning. There is nothing like drinking in the cold juice from the claws just before you crack open the shell and pop a delicious piece of lobster into your mouth. Aaah … Nectar of the gods!

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  • Take the little legs, (Swimerettes) and roll them from side to front with a rolling pin, or wine bottle, and you will extrude some really delicious and sweet little pieces of meat. Waste nothing..

    .

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  • Christine

    I eat every thing the green and the eggs too The only difference is i don’t eat lobster with butter bjut with home made mayonnaise this is the way we eat lobster , crabs ect

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  • i always eat the green stuff

    What’s the problem? A real NE !
    Kathy

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  • Christiana

    No no donot eat the green stuff. This is where the lobster detoxifies his used food. If you eat it you could get sick from what the lobster ate.

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    • So not true. You must not be from Maine. The Tamallee is delicious and not at all dangerous. Most Mainers eat it up. Not sure where you got that tidbit.

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  • the best way to eat lobster is to buy it by the pound already picked out,unless your from away and want to spend more money,consider what you throw away in shells and such after you eat one at 5 or 6 dollars a lb. il bet you dont get your moneys worth ,but boy what fun.I ate a Maine lobster…

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  • Brian

    As far as I’m concerned there’s only one kind of lobster to eat and that is the “lazy man’s” lobster. No mess, no hard work cracking shells and deciding what or what not to eat! :-)

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  • I’m from NE and have fished lobsters for many years…. Most all have 8 legs ..ie:4 on each side… As with most tender meat it is definately the body meat, as in most animals.. The tail being a mussle which is used to propell it Backwards is very good but tougher in texture… The Claws, Pincher and crusher along with the Knuckles are in between… First remove all the 8 legs and start breaking them apart and mostly sucking the meat out… This time consuming process allows the rest of the lobster to cool a bit, then pull the claws off and seperate the knuckles.. with the cracker seperate the parts of the knuckles and then crack the claws themselves if done right you will get the whole claw meat out in one piece.. For the tail which is last, face the bottom toward you and with one hand on each side of the tail squeeze the sides togeather until you hear it crack… The take a fork and with the tines on the underside of the tail push it into the meat and peal it out of the shell… remove the top strip and clean the black (most of the time) strip, Cut it in chunks, dip in melted butter and enjoy….

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  • I find utility scissors are my tool of choice if it is a lobster with a softer shell. With a hard shelled lobster the aforementioned utility scissors work for the tail. But for the more difficult claws of the larger lobster, I use a hammer with a towel covering to catch the stuff that spews.

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  • Well, this may all be well and true, but for some people (especially ME!). I start with the little legs and squeeze out as much of the meat as possible. And where the legs are attached right there is quite a bit on meat that people tend to forget. It’s not for the faint of heart, I personally don’t mind digging for such a delicacy. Then Comes the cavity and the tamale` with crackers of course. Next come the arms from the body to the claw, as you can see I am saving the best for last, The claws are next, of course the drawn butter, is always a must. Then comes the little flippers on the tail, I go for every space that I can find the meat, and Then the Delicious TAIL MEAT.

    Reply

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