April 30, 2019

Be Shellfish

It’s time you treat mom! In recent years fishmongers have been giving us the opportunity to celebrate the queen of our family with the king of shellfish, lobster.

As an etiquette expert I can assure you, no noses or pinkies should be up in the air to host and eat this treasure of the sea. Lobster is a convivial meal to be served and eaten without fuss or pretension. It is perfect for easy-going memory making.

Buy it the same day, alive and dashing: folding its tail and showing its claws. Male or female? The small hooks between the tail and the thorax will tell this. Small, flexible and soft? It’s a female and its tail will be enlarged. Big, hard and whitish? It’s a male. Either or, the taste is the same.

Maintain its vitality: in a bath of water and salt or in the refrigerator, for up to 12 hours.

Set the table with newspaper: all can savour and dispose the lobster shells on the table. The paper absorbs excess water and odors. Roll this eco-friendly tablecloth and discard.

Get ready to cook it alive, asleep or a little tipsy: place it a few minutes in the freezer or adding a shot of vodka to the boiling water. Roll its tail and lay it on its back, before plunging it in the water.

Without a vocal organ or sensitivity to pain, a lobster does not scream when it is being cooked. The sound you hear is air popping from its shell.

Let everyone flavor their own meal: offer parsley, chive and tarragon sprigs in vases, lemon wedges and limes in bowls, and minced garlic or garlic flower in ramekins.

Casual, but chic: each guest has a bib and a heating ramekin. After the feast, present finger-rinses (small bowls of warm water with slices of lemon and mint) accompanied by towels.

De-Shell lobster 101

1) With the lobster scissors, cut the elastics and the tip of the claws. Drain the water.
2) Detach the tail, the claws and joints, as well as the legs, by turning from the body.
3) Detach the thumb of the claws, with your hands. Break the shell with the lobster claws. Disjoint the lobster with the rounded end of the lobster fork. Remove the flesh with the pointed end. Discard the cartilage.
4) Crack the tail length-wise with your hands on each side, as you would when you open a book. The tail in the palm of one hand, the lobster fork in the other, prick its base. Gently push up. The tail will detach itself in one smooth movement. Yay!
5) The eight legs as well as the tail can be kept to nibble on and to suck out the meat.

Two optional tastings: in the lobster chest, green and creamy is the tomalli, the liver. In females, at the base of the tail is coral, the eggs. To eat or not to eat, the choice is yours!

Julie's Maritime Cooking Pot
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
The order of food is paramount. Stack from bottom to top, from least to most cooking time.
  • Seaweed or rocks to cover the bottom optional
  • 4 lobsters of about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ lb
  • 4 cobs of corn cut in half
  • 2 red onions in quarters
  • 12 whole new potatoes
  • 1 lb. chorizo cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. melted unsalted butter to be poured into the ramekins
  • 5 teaspoons of sea salt
  1. Sauté the onions in melted butter.

  2. Pour three inches of water into the bottom of your pot.
  3. Cover with seaweed or rocks, with onion and salt.
  4. Stack the corn, followed by the potatoes, add the chorizo, and finish with the lobsters from the largest to the smallest.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat down halfway, for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender with a fork.


Don’t forget to follow Julie on Instagram @EtiquetteJulie and Twitter @EtiquetteJulie and on Facebook @EtiquetteJulieCanada.

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