How to Kill a Lobster Like a Mainer
According to Lucas Myers, cofounder and director of operations at SoPo Seafood, the Mainest way is also the chillest.
Despite what one might think, there is more than one way to kill a lobster. The classic beach lobster bake, which involves digging a hole, putting rocks and coals and seaweed down, setting the lobster in, and covering it with more seaweed and possibly a burlap tarp, is the party version, not unlike a goat roast in New Mexico. Then there are people who meddle with the lobster ahead of cooking it: “The most inhumane thing I’ve ever heard of was a chef who would use a butter baster to inject the lobster with hot butter before placing it in an oven to bake,” says Lucas Myers of SoPo Seafood. Other people go so far as to blow marijuana into a lobster’s face to make it more comfortable before going into the steamer. “I’m kind of skeptical on that one,” says Myers. People will argue that killing a lobster before steaming it is the most humane way to go about it. “In commercial cookeries, there’s an electrolysis machine that will electrocute the lobster and stun it ahead of going into the steamer,” explains Myers. And then there’s the at-home cook who will, Julia Child–style, point a chef’s knife between the lobster’s eyes and push down to sever the brain. “But the thing is,” says Myers, “that lobster is still moving when it’s going into the water, and I can’t imagine that is a painless way to die.” So, what does Myers suggest? “I think the very simple way is the Mainer way,” he says. “And by keeping it simple, it is done well.” Get yourself a large pot, fill it with two inches of water and half a cup of salt. Myers likes to cook his lobsters outside to avoid stinking up the house—and to circumvent boiling water getting all over the stove. “Get yourself a tripod connected to a propane tank and get 40,000 BTUs going underneath it, so it gets to a very hot boiling steam really quickly,” Myers says. “I want to get my pot to a point where it’s going to boil over.” Take the rubber bands off the claws (otherwise they will impart a rubbery flavor to the water). Take the lobster by the back and place it headfirst into the steaming pot. Follow it with several of its friends. Put the lid on top. “Those lobsters are going to be dead within a minute,” says Myers. Soon the lobsters will rise to the surface and the water will boil over. With a beer in one hand and a potholder in the other, take the lid off. Let the percolation settle back down, and then put the lid back on. “It’s going to percolate up and pour over again,” Myers says. Finally, after 10 minutes of this, turn off the heat and put the lid back on. “Your lobsters can sit like that while you’re waiting for everybody to sit down and get plated.” Then, get cracking.
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