Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Clean Your Lobster

The Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, unlike their Maine lobster relatives, lack the large pinching claw.  Instead they rely on spines covering their bodies to protect them from predators.  Gloves are definitely an option when handling spiny lobsters.

Spiny lobsters are equipped with use a second pair of antennae in sensory perception, which are found folded alongside their body when it's not in use.  This is where you start in the cleaning process.

Snap off a section of the antennae so that you have a diameter of about 5/16” on the blunt end.

The blunt end of the antennae is then inserted into the lobster’s anus and twisted.  The spines on the antennae are barbed so when you pull the antennae out, the digestive track is removed.

Next, insert a sharp knife between the carapace and the tail to slice the connective membrane.

With a twist, the tail is removed.

This is where many people stop.


The tail can be split and prepared for grilling.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

  • 2 petite lobster tails or large tail split
  • 2-4 TBS butter, melted
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • dash paprika
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • pinch of tarragon or other herbs
  • ½ tsp. parsley, minced
  • 2 lemon wedges

Using kitchen shears, remove thin underbelly from lobsters.  Bend back lobster tails to crack slightly and insert wooden skewer (reduces curling).  Heat grill.  Combine butter with garlic, paprika, peppers and herbs.

Grill lobster over medium heat, brushing with seasoning butter until done.  Cook 75% of the time shell down and 25% of the time shell up, approximately 6-10 minutes, do not overcook!  Serve drizzled with butter, sprinkled with fresh parsley and garnish with lemon wedges.

Many of the locals will tell you that you are discarding the best part, the head.  To prepare the head, split it length wise and remove all but the translucent white meat.  Grill or steam the halves until the meat is white then remove from the shell.

This meat can be use to make Curried Lobster:

Dingis’s Curried Lobster

This treatment showcases the flavor of the rich meat without overwhelming it with butter.

1 large lobster (about 2 pounds)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, grated
1 small cubanelle or green pepper, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon seeded and finely chopped hot pepper (red pepper flakes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, smashed and chopped
2 teaspoons white vinegar or lime juice
1 teaspoon (approx.) curry powder
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1.      Steam the lobster over boiling water (1 – 1 ½ minutes per ounce).  When it is cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat and cut into small chunks.
2.      Toss the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, with the lobster meat.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little bit more curry powder if necessary.  (There should be just a hint of curry flavor.)  Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.
3.      When ready to serve, heat the oil in a heavy pan or wok until very hot.  Stir-fry lobster mixture for a minute or two.  Add about ½ cup water to create a bit of sauce and allow to cook for just a couple of minutes longer.  Serve over rice.

Serves 2
Recipe from An Embarrassment of Mangoes, by Ann Vanderhoof

Unfortunately, the young men that caught the lobsters for us suffered the bends on a subsequent dive.  One died and the other, Curt, is seeking treatment in St. Lucia. This happens too often in the Caribbean where the industry is largely unregulated and the young men diving for lobster and lambi (conch) are poorly trained.  Should you wish to help with the medical expenses, please contact Curt's mother, Mary Benjamin at: 473-536-7568.  Thank you.

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