There’s no easier entrance into the world of nose-to-tail eating than through the head, claws, and tail of a whole lobster.
I don’t have to tell you how sweet and luscious that claw and knuckle meat is, and even mild shellfish fans know the glory of a butter-poached lobster tail. But what about the rest?
Well, folks, class is about to be in session. Recently, I stopped by New York’s John Dory Oyster Bar for a lesson in lobster.
Meet April Bloomfield, executive chef and co-owner of The John Dory Oyster Bar and the irrefutable high priestess of nose-to-tail cooking.
On my visit, The John Dory's chef de cuisine, Charlene Santiago, broke down this tasty fellow for the purposes of research and lunch.
Her first move was to pop off the tail. See that inky goo in the middle? That's lobster roe, and it is delicious. 'We like to use the roe and make a butter out of it,' says Santiago.
But the real treat was revealed when Charlene removed the head. It came off easily, like opening the hood of a car.
The grayish green, gravy-like substance you see is called 'tomalley.' It tastes like a mix of sweet lobster, uni, and butter. 'Sometimes it's dark green or really bright red,' says Santiago.
We spooned the tomalley (mostly fat, with some guts), roe, and whatever bits of meat came along with it into this cup. I shot it like the luxurious little amuse-bouche it is, but you should know that the FDA advises against eating tomalley, as it can contain high levels of chemicals, including PCBs, dioxin and cadmium.
With the tomalley lesson over, Santiago carefully removed the tail meat. 'I like to dip the meat in the tomalley,' she says.
Those spongy fronds are the gills, but they're often referred to as 'dead man's fingers.' They're tough and tasteless and not for eating.
To ignore the meat in the legs would be a dishonor to the lobster. Use your kitchen scissors to rip right through the legs.
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