Summer means lobster and Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. is offering his tips to pick the best lobsters this season.
How to pick the perfect live lobster…
· Feel the shell – There are hard-shell and soft-shell lobsters. It’s just a function of whether the lobsters have recently shed or not. The meat in soft-shells is a little bit sweeter and more tender but a lobster with a softer shell has recently molted and is likely to have more water weight and less meat. They’re not as hearty, so they don’t travel as well as hard-shell lobsters. Hard-shell lobsters have more meat, but they can be a bit tougher. On a new shell (soft-shell), the claws will be clean. On an old shell (hard-shell), they’ll have scrapes on them from when they’ve banged against rocks over the course of the year. If they’ve recently shed, it’ll be a pretty clean shell without very many scrapes on it - another way to tell if it is a soft or hard lobster.
· No smell - They should not emit any odor when they are alive.
· Pick a lively lobster - Make sure to scan the tank for a vivacious lobster. The more active the lobster, the more tender the meat. If it’s limp when you pick it up, that’s a sign of a soon-to-be-dead lobster. If you straighten out their tails, they should swiftly curve back under the body.
· Look for long antennas – The longer the better. A secret to buying at a grocery store – the lobsters in the holding tank will often eat each other’s antennae. If you look into a tank at a store, you can tell if a lobster has been there for a long time because their antennae may have been nibbled down to the base.
· Check out the color – Don’t be turned off by the varieties of color. Live lobsters are usually dark green or greenish-brown, but lobsters can be found in a range of colors including blue, white, orange, yellow, black, and sometimes even red. If you look at the underbody of the lobster, particularly the claws, they’re usually a vibrant red.
· Size matters - The larger the lobster the tougher the meat. Chef Cenobio prefers under two pounds. He says that lobsters under two pounds have tender and flavorful meat.
· Location! Location! - There are many different species but Cenobio says the best come from Canada and Maine.
· Don’t be biased – Most aficionados would agree that there is no difference in the taste between male and female lobsters.
· Pay attention to price – The price of this species is between 9 to 11 dollars a pound. If the price is lower often the quality is as well.