No more “lobster-cide”; I can’t kill lobsters anymore. Being a chef, and an instructor who used to be able to teach such things to poor unsuspecting students, this isn’t something you’d admit out loud.

I was reading Domestic Diva MD‘s post on having to cut up a chicken and kind of understood what she was crying about. I can butcher chicken and birds quite well, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Suppose that is because they are dead when they arrive on my cutting board.

This is a wooden chopping board with a chef's ...

Image via Wikipedia

Lobsters, on the other hand, come in live and kicking and probably pretty frustrated by having their claws banded shut. (thank goodness!) or OUCH! pegged shut. ( The would probably be more angry than frustrated.)

Lobsters shipped for consumption in the United...

Image via Wikipedia

They flicker their feelers at you, roll their odd eyes and foam at the mouth for desire to be back in the water.

They try to walk around so you have to watch them or put them where they can’t get away.They often pack fresh seaweed with them so they have something familiar on their death ride besides a waxed box with ice. That is most likely not the reason, but it is my guess for now.

In order to kill them correctly, you need to rub them between the eyes to calm them down and ‘put them to sleep’ before plunging a 12″ razor-sharp knife into their brains.

“Kills them instantly.” says Eric Ripert

Has he ever been a lobster? How does he know?

I can’t do that anymore. I am bothered by being able to do it in the first place. Once they are dead, no problem, just can’t kill them.

The last time I had to kill lobsters was for a dinner party I was doing for a friend in Atlanta. 14 lobsters for the appetizer.

14 live and kicking lobsters. I could hear them scratching around inside the box, slightly muffled by the seaweed packed in the box with them.

I placed them in the kitchen sink. I got creeped out by so many large weird leggy things scrambling around in the sink, I had to put some of them back in the box.

Then the killing started.

Rubbing the space between the eyes, they calm down. Ready, Aim, Plunge and split the thing in two.

OH! How it writhes and wiggles after!

After forcing myself to do all 14, I was a total basket case. Crying, kneeling down begging forgiveness for taking their lives, who was I after all to decide it was their time to die?

It was quite a horrible struggle emotionally and morally. I won’t kill lobsters anymore.

Not that way. If necessary, I’ll put them into a perforated hotel pan and pop them into a fully active steamer and slam the door shut for 8 minutes.

When I return, voila! Lobster meat. The shells have turned red and there lies the perfect ready to eat lobster, after you rip off its tail and claws.

(I worry about the students who ‘get a kick’ out of learning this. Glad they only get 1 lobster)

Melt some butter and Bon Apetit!

Just don’t ask me to kill them anymore.

13 thoughts on “Lobster-cide

  1. I feel like you wrote this post just for me! No wonder you were so understanding when I fell apart in class on lobster day. Thank you for that. Everyone wants to say it is hypocritical to not be able to kill what you are cooking/eating and maybe it is, but I don’t want to do it. I don’t see them out there cutting the throats of the baby lambs and veal they are eating. I too “worry” about the students who find thrill in the killing of the lobster. Actually, I feel anger. That was a difficult day for me in class. I wanted to scream “STOP LAUGHING, YOU ARE TAKING A LIFE! SHOW SOME GD RESPECT!” I tried to chock it up to immaturity – there are no lack of “kids” in our classes, but on the other hand, I couldn’t have/wouldn’t have behaved that way when I was 18 or 19….Thank you for having the guts to write this post. Not every chef would have done that 🙂

    • Thank you Heather. I agree, there needs to be more respect for what we are cooking and where it comes from. When it comes to meat, no matter whether we killed it or not, the respect for the animal needs to be there. Always.
      It is the honorable thing to do.
      I love eating meat, but have great respect for where it comes from and how it ended up in front of me.

  2. The last time and I think only time I ever cooked lobster it grabbed for the edges of the pan. It was horrific. Reading your post I thought yes this is awful I will never eat lobster again, until I got to the picture drawn butter please. :+)

    • There are definitely two schools on this issue, those that can and those that can’t. I migrated from one side to the other. I’m just glad we don’t have to get all our food by killing it ourselves.

  3. holy c… the finished dish looked like something I would order at a fancy restaurant. and would definitely love it if you were the cook. but don’t ask me to kill a lobster. I am a carnivore hypocrite. ps: sorry for disappearing, as usual, too much work. but I am back now.

    • Thanks Barbara! Glad to see you and so glad you are back! Carnivore hypocrite is a good descriptor. While I love to eat meat, I am also glad and grateful there are those who can do the slaughter for us.

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