Martha Shows Us the Right Way to Shell a Lobster, Just in Time for Summer
Our founder's biggest tip? Snip the claws after you cook the crustacean, which will minimize the mess as you scoop out its meat.
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'Tis the season for clam bakes and al fresco dinner parties, and no summer feast would be complete without fresh lobster at the table. However, for as delicious and warm weather-friendly as lobster can be, it's often difficult and messy to eat. Fortunately, Martha has a foolproof method for shelling and eating the crustacean that will simplify the entire process. In the above clip from a vintage on-air episode of the Martha Stewart Show, our founder gives us, and special guest Ricardo Chavira, the scoop on how to get the most meat out of a lobster without making a mess.
Martha's best tip happens right out of the gate: Once the lobster has cooled enough to handle comfortably, our founder recommends clipping the tips off of each claw with heavy-duty kitchen shears, and then inverting the lobster to drain off the excess water. "If you put it on the plate and then cut it open, it will drip water everywhere," she explains. "If you trim the tips of the claws right away, then your plate won't get soupy."
After the tips of the claw are clipped, the next step is to break down the lobster into manageable pieces. To do this, Martha suggests starting with one of the two large front legs (either the pincher or crusher claw), gently twisting each section until it snaps off. Next, twist off the other leg in the same fashion. As soon as both claws are removed, Martha says it's time to focus your energy on the lobster body and the tail. "Carefully twist off the tail and remove it gently from the body so you get all the meat," she advises. Set the tail aside, and then, holding the body in your hand shell-side down gently pull off all the little (walking) legs, one by one. "The little legs are good to chew on," she explains.
Next, Martha says you'll need to carefully remove the carapace, the armor-like shell of the body, and set it aside on a separate plate. There is delicious meat inside this cavity, but some people choose not to eat it, our founder explains; tomalley, a green goo, is also stored there. "You might see green stuff known as tomalley," she says of the soft mass that in many parts of the world is considered a delicacy. "A lot of people love it and a lot of people don't." (Martha, for the record, says it's "really good.") Due to the presence of tomalley, Martha also recommends keeping a few damp rags close by to wipe down your hands and surface area while breaking down your lobster.
Once your lobster is broken down, it's ready to crack open and eat. To get as much meat as possible from the tail, Martha recommends sliding the backside of a regular fork right under the top of the shell and gently pulling and twisting it until the meat comes out in one piece. "A lot of people struggle with the tail, and there's no reason to struggle at all," she explains. Then, remove the meat from the claws. Martha says to start by gently twisting the upper knuckle of the claw until it snaps off; using an old-fashioned nutcracker, crack open the knuckle and remove the meat with a small fork after that. Next, remove the thumb from the claw and use the same nutcracker to crack open the claw itself; inside, Martha says you will find a beautiful piece of claw meat. "And that's the way to eat a lobster," she concludes.
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