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Lobster Tales

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Lobster Tales

How to Order a Maine Lobster  |  How to Cook a Lobster  |  4 Steps to Eat Lobster Like a Pro

A Brief History of Lobstering in Maine

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Let's Learn How to Order a Maine Lobster

Freshly caught lobster is about as classic a Maine summertime meal as it gets. Some like a lobster feed at their campsite or on their deck after a day out exploring with friends. A great way to do that is to stop at the lobster pound and have them steam them up for you. Die-hard Maine lobster fans will buy them live and boil them up themselves.

The only better thing is having someone do the hard part for you at a restaurant. If you don’t want to look like a tourist when you place your order, we have some helpful tips that will have you order lobster like a pro in no time.

Maine Lobster Shore Dinner
Shore Dinner

The classic order! A shore dinner comes complete with a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound lobster, some corn on the cob, a small bag of steamer clams (small soft-shelled clams), and some new potatoes, salty, crispy fries, or chips. On the side, you'll find some drawn butter, crackers and picks to get the meat out, and a jaunty plastic lobstah bib.

Enjoy a Lazy Man's Lobster Dinner
Lazy Man's Lobster

It's in the name. This choice is all the salty-sweet goodness of a Shore Dinner with a fraction of the work. First, the staff cooks the lobster (typically in a large steamer contraption), then they do all the hard work of cracking the claws, knuckles, and tail—leaving the meat in place. Finally, the whole thing is served up with sides, butter, and usually no bib.

Maine Lobster Roll to Go
Lobster Roll

Fan-favorite. Take a top-loader bun, which looks a little like a slice of white bread molded into a bun shape, then toast it up and fill it with cooked chunks of the lobster's claw, knuckle, and tail meat. Those are the fundamentals. The tricky part can be figuring out whether you want it hot vs. cold. A hot lobster roll is a symphony of drawn butter, salt and pepper, and lobster. On the other hand, it's mayonnaise, a little seasoning, and loads of fresh lobster meat that make up a cold lobster roll.

How they do it at the Ogunquit Lobster Pound.

Dropping a lobster in the pot.

Get Cooking

Whatever you do, please don’t drown them.​

Ok, it may seem a touch dramatic. But whether it’s storing lobsters to eat later or when you are ready to cook them go with a light hand on the H2O. Bringing home lobsters from the pound can be a thrilling affair. Please ensure you look in the bag before sticking in your hand. Those tight rubber bands on their claws can sometimes come loose—the author speaks from experience. Once they are out of the bag (most likely in the sink), resist the urge to give them a cool tap water bath to keep them happy. It’s the best way to send them to a quick and watery grave as they lack the physiology to breathe in fresh water.

All you will need is two to three inches of well-salted water (or, even better, use seawater if you can) in the bottom of a broad and sturdy pot. Anything more, and you’ll be serving a waterlogged lobster. Do it like the pros at the pound and bring that salty water to a rolling boil, drop the critters in the steamy bath and cover them up. No, the lid rattling from time to time isn’t a lobster trying to get out. In about 10 to 12 minutes, your lobsters will be ready to come out, all red, steamy, and cooked to perfection.

Eat a Lobster Like a Pro

Hover over each number below to reveal some tips and tricks for eating a whole boiled lobster like a Mainer. Plus a few thoughts on what to order along side it for the full dining experience.

Lobster Shore Dinner and all the fixings

Claws First:

– Twist the claws off of the freshly cooked lobster.

– Pull each claw down and away from the body to remove it at the base of each claw.

– Separate the claw from the knuckle.

– Use a cracker (the v-shaped tool) to break the claw and knuckle open.

– Remove the meat with fingers, fork, or pick.

– Dip in melted butter (optional) and eat.

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Move on to the Tail:

–Separate the tail from the body by bending it up and away from the body in a twisting motion.

– Remove the tail fins from the end.

– Crack the tail in half (the long way) by pushing down on it on a firm surface or slice it open with a sharp knife down the center.

– Then, using a fork, remove the meat from the tail in one piece.

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Explore the Body:

– Pluck off the little legs and save them for the last step.

– Remove the shell from the back of the body (carapace). Pick out any pieces of white meat that you can find. There is a lot more there than you may think.

– To get to the meat in the cracks and crevices, you may have to move some orange or green stuff out of the way. If you find an orange mass inside the body, those are lobster roe (eggs); the mushy green matter is called the tomalley. Not everyone likes how the roe and tomalley taste; others consider them delicacies.

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The Last Morsels:

– Finally, if you aren’t stuffed, try the walking legs—those are the four small ones on each side.

– It is easy to simply suck the meat out of the legs or use a pick to work out the meat from the legs.

– If you want to show off a bit, use a bottle or rolling pin to push out the meat like a pro.

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– Used to crack open hard-shelled lobsters it is formed to the shape of the lobster claw and legs in order to easily grasp the hard-surfaced area.

– Be sure you have a lot of napkins or paper towels handy. 


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– Butter and lobster are like Oreos and milk; they are yummy and go perfectly together. 

– Coleslaw is a classic lobster side dish. It’s crunchy, light, slightly sweet, and tangy.

– Corn on the cob often boiled alongside the lobster, is also great with butter. Bonus: during late July and August, it is often fresh from a nearby farm.

– French Fries, crispy and salty, are always on the menu when you are at a seafood restaurant. Some offer options, such as onion rings, dinner rolls, cheesy biscuits, or homemade potato salad.

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© 2021 The Maine Beaches Association

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