Set up the steamer because it’s lobster season! National Lobster Day might be June 15, but there’s no reason you can’t celebrate this luscious seafood holiday any time of year. To help you get in the seafood frame of mind, we spoke with the food & beverage experts at Cliff House Maine for cooking tips for your favorite crustaceans.
The Cliff House has a beautiful and storied past that dates back to 1866. Recently reopened with a grand renovation that includes luxury guest rooms and suites, an oceanfront spa and wellness center, a new cliffside ballroom that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and oceanfront dining and bars, it’s an East Coast destination like no other. And lobster has a lot to do with it.
Executive Chef & Seafood Sommelier Rick Shell (appropriately named) and Beverage Manager, Caitlin Hula have been serving lobster at the Cliff House restaurants for years.
So when we wanted some pro tips, they gave us the rundown on exactly how to cook and eat a lobster.
What is the best way to pick out that perfect lobster?
Look for a lively lobster! There are no tell signs of what make a lobster sweet or not.
Chef Shell personally keeps all his lobsters to under a pound and a half, he finds the smaller lobsters are sweeter. Who doesn’t love a soft-shell lobster?
How to Cook the Best Lobster
For a boiled lobster, make sure there is plenty of salt in the water. You can also roast your lobsters whole, simply wrap in seaweed and place on an open flame for incredible flavor.
He always says keep in mind what is the star of the dish. It is better to have a lobster dish or meal with accompaniments that support the lobster so you don’t overwhelm or overpower the sweetness of it.
Best Beverage Pairings
For a fun food and beverage pairing, try farmhouse Saison beer, such as an Allagash Saison. The Saison has notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and a peppery spice that pairs well with lobster.
If one wanted to go with a wine, Beverage Manager Caitlin Hula would suggest a nice full bodied, fruit forward white wine such as a Viognier.
How to break down lobster
The thrill of eating lobster must be calculated so guests are not breaking up the meat and picking out shell.
Refrain from going a little lobster crazy and breaking up the lobster, it is well worth the wait with these simple steps.
The Entire Lobster
Enjoy the entire lobster by first twisting the tail off over a bowl to hopefully catch all of the tomalley it is just a sweet rich goodness.
For soft shell lobsters, gently squeeze the tail together this will slit the back. After, flip it over and slide the tail out.
Eat this first and let the claws stay intact, this will also keep them warmer while eating the lobster tail.
Gently twist them away from the body. Take the smaller part of the claw and break away, this will also drain away any extra water from the tail so be ready for that.
Use a butter knife to crack open lobster and not a cracker, it does a more efficient and clean job. Take the back of a knife and stand the claw lengthwise.
Hit the back of it to split it in two and gently remove the tail meat, you will have to remove the cartilage gently. Simply wiggle back and forth and it will come out.
This might be the hardest part of the lobster. For ease, use lobster crackers.
Squeeze the knuckle and try to push the meat through the largest end opening. The knuckles are the sweetest, so this is a great ending for all of your hard work.