Maine, or American, lobsters have large, meaty claws; mostly, this shellfish is sold fresh-cooked or live for cooking. Spiny and other rock lobsters have tiny claws; all the meat is in their tails, which are widely available frozen; look for great deals at discount warehouse stores.
PREP AND COOK TIME: 10 to 20 minutes to boil water; 25 to 35 minutes to cook, cool, and shell lobsters
MAKES: A 1 1/2-pound Maine lobster yields about 4 ounces meat, a 6- to 8-ounce spiny lobster tail 4 to 6 ounces meat; each makes 1 serving
1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in an 8- to 10-quart pan over high heat. Plunge 2 live Maine lobsters (about 1 1/2 lb. each) headfirst into boiling water (or add 2 thawed frozen spiny lobster tails, 6 to S oz. each, to 3 qt. boiling water in a 5-to 6-qt. pan). Cover and cook 10 minutes; when boil resumes, reduce heat to a simmer. Drain lobsters and let stand until cool enough to touch.
2. For Maine lobsters, twist off tails (A). For both Maine lobsters and spiny lobster tails, use scissors to snip free the flat underside of each tail shell, cutting along inside edges (B); discard underside shell and flippers. Lift out meat; pull out and discard vein, if present. Put meat in a bowl. Rinse and save tail shell backs.
3. Twist legs with claws from Maine lobsters. Pull shells from bodies. If desired, scoop out and save red roe, green tamalley (liver), and white fat for other uses. Discard body shell interiors; rinse and save shells. If desired, reserve small legs to eat later. Break claws from large legs. Crack leg shells and remove meat; add to bowl. Insert scissor tips into open end of each claw (C); snip along ridge to tip. Break shell open; carefully remove claw. Discard shells; add meat to bowl.
4. If cooking up to 6 hours ahead, cover meat and seal reserved shells in a plastic bag; chill.
Per ounce: 28 cal., 6% (1.8 cal.) from fat; 5.8 g protein; 0.2 g fat (0 g sat.); 0.4 g carbo (0 g fiber); 108 mg sodium; 20 mg chol.
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