Kitchen Knife Skills: Techniques for Carving, Boning, Slicing, Chopping, Dicing, Mincing, Filleting by Marianne Lumb, includes useful techniques like Preparing an Artichoke; Preparing Pineapple; and Preparing a Lobster.
by Marianne Lumb
Lobsters are best eaten after having been cooked live, because their flesh hasn't started to deteriorate. Preparing lobster is therefore not for the faint-hearted. That being said, never buy a dead lobster—like all fish, they should be as fresh as possible.
There are two ways to prepare a live lobster. Either freeze the lobster for two hours and then plunge it into boiling water—this method is ideal if you want to keep the main body of flesh in one piece—otherwise, as illustrated here, cut the lobster in half lengthwise while it is still alive. This is an ideal method if you want to cook the halves quickly under a grill. Either method requires you to be precise and definite with your knife.
Pick up a lobster by holding it just behind its head on the main body. When being held, lobsters will naturally arch their back and spread their claws out. Keep your hands just behind their head to avoid any contact. Kitchen tongs minimize contact when picking them up, but aren't ideal as the shells are shiny and thus difficult to grip. Lobster claws are normally bound with an elastic band so they do not harm each other (or you).
Step 1. Place the lobster on a cutting board. Ideally it should be alive and kicking—to calm it down, rub the head backward and forward.
Step 2. Take a large cook's knife and with the tip, insert the knife into the main body of the lobster.
Step 3. Move the tip of the knife quickly to the bottom of the lobster, then in a leverlike action, cut downward 90 degrees to the board, to cut the whole head in half, so your knife is resting on the board.
Step 4. Turn the cutting board or the lobster around 180 degrees. Insert the tip of the knife through the shell until you reach the cutting board then. keeping the tip of the knife in one place. bring the knife down in one precise lever action to cut through the entire body.
Step 5. The lobster should now be in two equal halves. The halves may still be moving slightly—this is normal.
Step 6. Take one of the halves of lobster and remove the stomach sack from the tail section using a spoon. Do the same with the other half.
Step 7. Using the point of a small knife (such as a paring or kitchen knife), remove the intestinal tract from both shells.
Step 8. To crack open the claws, use a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin covered in plastic wrap, or the flat-side of the heaviest knife you have. With a few assertive motions, crack the claws so that two or three large cracks appear. This ensures that the claw meat cooks at the same rate as the main body of the meat. It is now ready to cook.
This page created March 2010
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