Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Supplemental Lobster Post #2

BCD Dad weighs in on the proper protocol for cooking "Super Jumbo Lobsters":
How to Cook Super Jumbo Lobsters

A super jumbo lobster (SJL) is one that is bigger than five pounds. The technique for cooking and serving SJL’s is quite different than the standard 1-2 pound lobster. Why, you may ask, would anyone want to cook and eat such a large lobster? Isn’t it tough? For one thing, getting the meat out of a large lobster is simplicity itself. The tiny nooks and crannies of a small lobster, are large caverns in an SJL. The taste is indistinguishable from its minute brothers. You could think of it as the “turkey of the sea” where each person gets to have their preferred parts. Fans of steamed blue crabs know of course, that the body where the legs attach to the claws, is a source of some of the best meat. This is a fact that has somehow escaped our brothers in Maine, who do not dismember the lobsters’ bodies. But this could be because of the minute size. The body of an SJL has all of that wonderful meat in the same places as the blue crab.

Depending on side dishes and other accouter-ments, plan on 2-3 lbs of lobster/ person.


One Super Jumbo Lobster – 5lbs or more.
About 1 0z butter (melted and salted) per pound of lobster
Kosher salt.


Stock pot big enough to submerge the entire lobster. (For a six pounder, use a 20 qt. pot for example.)
A very long and strong kitchen fork
Heavy kitchen tongs
A large sheet pan.
Chopping block/board
A very heavy bone cutting meat cleaver.
A large serving bowl (to put the cooked lobster pieces into)
A large serving bowl (to put the empty shells into)
Heavy rubber mallet.

  1. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the lobster. Bring to boil. Add one handful of salt for each 10 qts. of water.
  2. Put in live lobster, head first. If any part of the lobster sticks out, put a lid on the pot, and weight it down with heavy cans.1
  3. Watch the heat as the water will easily boil over. When the water comes back to a boil, turn the heat down to continue boiling, and cook for 5 minutes/pound plus 2 minutes. (So an 8-lb lobster will cook in 42 mins.)
  4. Being very careful not to splash boiling water, push the big fork under the back of the body shell, and at the same time, put the tongs around the body, and, with both hands, lift the lobster onto the sheet pan. Watch that you don’t raise the lobster above the tongs because the hot water will run down the inside of the tongs onto your wrists!
  5. Remove and discard the rubber bands holding the claws together (if any).

Now comes the disassembly of the lobster. This is done away from the dining table because it requires some “industrial-size” equipment, and because there can be a huge mess.2

  1. Working over the sheet pan, twist each claw/arm combination at the joint with body and set aside. Remove the tail by twisting in a side to side motion and set aside. There will be a large amount (of very hot) water coming out of the lobster. This will ideally fall into the sheet pan. Drain this away when convenient.
  2. Place the lobster body, top side up, on a cutting board. Using the corner of the heavy cleaver, start to cut the body in half by first pushing through the shell at about the middle of the lobster with the sharp corner of the cleaver, and then flattening out the cleaver to cut all the way through. Turn the body around and finish the cut from the other side. At this point the tomally (green stuff) and roe (orange stuff) can be scooped out and put aside to be served separately. Put the body halves in the serving bowl.
  3. Next, break off the tail fins off the tail and place in the serving bowl as there is meat even in the tail fins. Then, using the same technique used on the body of cutting half-way and turning to cut the other half, cut the tail in half. Then, into the serving bowl.
  4. Retrieve the claws and arms. Separate the claw from the arm by twisting. Break off the smaller part of the claw. If the meat stays in that part, remove with a pick or just rapping on the table.
  5. Opening up the large part of the claw is the most daunting of SJL cooking. These claws are bigger than a human hand, and the shell can be more than 1/4in thick! No nutcracker on earth could dent one. Lay the lobster claw on the chopping block and cover with a kitchen towel. Then use the back (not sharp) edge of the cleaver, in one mighty blow, whack the lobster claw about half way down its length. Repeat until cracked. After the first crack, do not continue or the meat will be mashed. Then, flip the claw over and repeat on the other side. Remove the towel. If done correctly, there will be a large crack on each side of the claw, and with a simple twist the meat will be exposed. 3.
  6. For the arm joints, place the cleaver across each joint, and hit the top of the cleaver with your hand or a rubber mallet. Once separated, put the joint on the chopping block with the cleaver flat across it, and hit with your hand or the mallet to crack the shell.
  7. For the legs, leave whole and put into the serving bowl.

How to Eat

  1. The tail, claw and arm meat is now all very easily picked out of the shell with fingers or fork. The legs are broken at the joints, and the meat either sucked or squeezed out like toothpaste. The body is broken at each of the leg/claw joints, and the meat picked out with the fingers. Dip each morsel in the melted, salted butter, enjoy a bit of tomally and roe, a great bottle of white burgundy, some onion rings. Lobster paradise!
1 TIP – If your pot is not big enough, try this. After the lobster is in the pot, make a “tent” of heavy aluminum foil over the top of the pot. Then, half way through the cooking time, reverse the lobster (tail down now), put the tent back on, and continue cooking to end of the cooking time.

2 TIP: Dealing with the hot lobster is easier if you keep the cold water running, and dip your hands and the lobster under the cold water very briefly if things get too hot.

3 TIP: If you don’t use the towel, lobster meat, shell and water will fly all over your kitchen


  1. holy sh*t. I'm so bookmarking this entry for the day, years from now, when I tackle my own SJL.

  2. I admit, I have never tried to cook my own lobster but this guide gives me the confidence to give it a try....

  3. Just got my first SJL Lobster in my life --- 6.5lb. Now I am confident to make a nice meal for my wife tonight. You made my day.

  4. This is awesome, thanks!!! I've been trying to find a good resource for larger lobsters, and finally found one. Everyone seems to just write about the normal size lobsters!

    I recently expanded my lobster cooking from chickens to jumbos (3lbs so far), with designs on more. But my frustrations with the exponentially increasing complexities for the larger sizes made the entire endeavor seem quite daunting. Thanks for injecting some clarity!!!

    Questions: When do you use your mallet?
    I cooked my 3lb lobster about 16 minutes and it came out overcooked. But you suggest even longer. Thoughts?
    How about the concepts of leaving it in the water 5 mins to absorb moisture? Agree or no? And then leave it out five minutes to cook in the shell? Will that overcook it? Should it be doused with water after?
    What do you do if the lobster comes out undercooked? Do you toss it back in? Any subletites?


  5. Their cooking time is way to long.

    1 - don't leave it in the water to absorb moisture

    2 - don't leave it out to cook more in the shell

    These lead to over cooked lobsters.

    After the water comes back to a boil, 8 minute for the first pound plus 3 minutes for each additional pound, you three pound lobster was cooked at 14 minutes.


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