What's Cookin' discussion

Archives > The most humane way to kill a lobster

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I'm from New England, and we grew up eating many a lobster over the summer and throughout the year (heck - even McDonald's had a lobster roll on the menu out there). Now that I'm smack dab in the middle of the country and lobster is more $$$, we have them maybe a few times a year - and we always cook them at home.

I always feel a little badly when we chuck them in the pot, but this article made me feel a little better about it. By the way, I like to refrigerate them for a bit and then steam them.

message 2: by Lori (new)

Lori Do they start clanging around your fridge? Hee.

Seriously, do you put them in the fridge in a pot of water? The reason I ask is that every summer we go to Orcas Island and catch Dungeness crab. We keep them in a bucket with sea water until it's time to cook. And yes, we do the boiling thing - I thought that was the only way.

message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I usually pick the lobsters up from the seafood store a few hours (at most) before I want to cook them. They pack them in a little cardboard box that has a little bit of bagged ice in it, and then that whole thing goes in a plastic bag. I tuck the whole thing in the fridge until I cook them.

I guess if you were by the ocean it would make the most sense to keep them in saltwater, but I'm about as far from the sea as you can get in the U.S. :)

I'm not sure if there's a way to replicate sea/salt water? If so, the people at the seafood store have never mentioned it. I think if you're just keeping them for a short time out of water they do OK (well, in a manner of speaking).

I don't know if it's the same for crabs - I have to admit that I've never made whole, live crabs at home. Only the legs.

message 4: by akaellen (new)

akaellen | 8 comments Gordon Ramsay and some other Chefs suggest driving your knife into the lobster right behind the head before you chuck them in the water. This severs the spinal cord and then they don't feel anything.

message 5: by Valerie (new)

Valerie This is from the article I posted, though:

To my surprise, further research indicated that cutting a lobster through the head may very well be a crueler approach than boiling. I read that a lobster’s nervous systems does not put it in a state of shock; they are probably well aware when they are being cut up. Yikes! (That said, a lobster is designed to deal with extreme cold or to escape predators by dropping a claw or a leg, just like that.) And most important for chefs, cutting a lobster through the head allows water to seep in and damage the prized tomalley.

I think I'm going to go with that line of thought because I don't think I'm adept enough with my chef's knife to sever the spinal cord anyway.

Or non-squeamish enough. I like to just throw them in the pot and leave the kitchen for a few moments like the coward I am :)

message 6: by Lori (new)

Lori The prized tomalley? Is that the brain? No, as much as I love shellfish, I stay away from the head.

message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ingenting) Thanks for posting this article, Val. I still could never bring myself to cook a lobster at home. I know it is hypocritical since I would eat one in a restaurant, but I couldn't kill it myself.

message 8: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I feel the same way about cows/chickens/pigs. I guess if I was starving, I could probably kill one and eat it, but as it stands I'd rather leave that to the pros.

I know - also completely hypocritical.

message 9: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Lori - the tomalley is in the body of the lobster, not the head - so it isn't the brain for sure. But I'm not sure exactly what it is...

OK, copied directly from Wikipedia: Tomalley or lobster paste is the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas. It is considered a delicacy, and may be eaten alone but is often added to sauces for flavor.

message 10: by Lori (new)

Lori Ah, that stuff, thanks Val. Richard likes that. I say ugh.

message 11: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I'm heading to New England later this week, and I completely plan on cooking a bunch of lobsters and steamers. Yay!

When we make lobsters, we just want the lobsters - there's barely room left in our bellies for anything else, never mind the idea of me taking the time to make a sauce from the tomalley (or eating it straight - I've tried that, but haven't really liked it.)

message 12: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ingenting) I just heard that the FDA is saying that people should not eat the tomalley. There is potential contamination, which can lead to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

Here is the link:

message 13: by Will (new)

Will Kester | 865 comments In crawfish, it's not called the tomalley but it's essentially the same, where we suck the head for the extra flavor. No cases of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning have ever occured that I know of.

After much pondering of how to humanely kill anything; I have concluded that the most humane way is to eat it, and the most inhumane way is to kill it and not eat it. Everything should serve some purpose; lobsters included, so I eat as much of it as possible, including the tomalley (especially considering the price!)

back to top