JULIA: We'’’re doing lobsters-- eating and cooking-- today on The French Chef.
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Welcome to The French Chef.
I'’’m Julia Child.
Lobsters are certainly a unique and beautiful animal.
And here'’’s one of the very largest ones I'’’ve ever seen.
They have a marvelous taste, and they'’’re really just like absolutely nothing else.
And they'’’re actually so popular that even though lobsters come from the East Coast, they'’’re flown all over the USA, and they even go over to Europe, and they travel very well.
And there'’’s such a very special gastronomic experience that I think that if you want to get the most out of lobsters, you have to know not only how to cook it, but how to eat it.
And so we'’’re going to do both cooking and eating.
We'’’re going to do one cold lobster recipe and one hot lobster recipe.
And lobsters, for those of you who do not come from New England, are caught in what they call lobster pots, which are big wooden cages like this.
And the lobster goes in here, in this section.
This half of the lobster pot is known as the living room.
And he crawls in there, and then he smells all the bait, which is in the second part, known as the bedroom.
And there'’’s the bait.
And when the lobster pot is pulled up from the depths of the ocean by the lobsterman, there it is, he hopes, full of lobsters.
And when you go to cook lobsters, they must be live.
And the reason that they have to be live is because they go off very quickly.
I'’’m going to get another one over here that I think is a little livelier than that one.
They'’’re supposed to... they spread their arms wide, and they flap their tails usually.
As soon as you get them out into the light, because they don'’’t like light, they begin to quiet down.
But they should be very lively.
There he is.
Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap.
And that shows that he'’’s a kind of boy that'’’s worth buying.
And when you buy lobsters, you do it by size.
And the smallest is known as the chicken lobster, which is one pound.
There'’’s a little one-pound lobster.
And the next size is known as the select, which is one and a half pounds.
And then there is the jumbo, which is about two and a half to three and a half pounds.
But you can see quite well the sizes there.
And then you have the enormous lobster, the behemoth, which is this one.
And this comes... Look at it.
This comes off, out from the deep sea.
And this one weighs almost 20 pounds.
And in the old days, the 1800s, you hear writings about lobsters that were five and six feet long and weighed 40 pounds.
And in the 1900s, lobsters were very cheap.
A chicken lobster like this, you could buy them for a dollar a dozen.
And they all-- you buy them by size.
And the size depends on how you plan to cook them.
If you'’’re just going to cook individual lobsters for boiling, to serve one per person, you'’’d use the chicken, one-pounder, or a small select, about one and a half to two pounds.
It depends on how big the appetites are.
And if you'’’re going to serve lobster Thermidor for a party, you could use a big jumbo like this, and half of a lobster would serve one person.
And if you'’’re going to have a great big party, you can buy behemoth.
And the weight of... the weight of meat per lobster is five to one.
Five pounds of lobster will give you one pound of meat.
Now I'’’m going to show you a bit of lobster lore, which is the sex of the lobster, which is rather fun.
You have to pick it up and show the underside.
And when you pick it up, pick it up just back of where the big claw joints meet, right at the shoulder.
And turn it upside down.
It can'’’t hurt you.
And you look at these...
I'’’ve got to make sure these boys aren'’’t going to get away from me.
You look at the final swimmerets right here.
The ones that are just before the tail meets the chest.
And if they are smooth and hard and pointed, it'’’s a male.
And you can see the difference between... All of these other little swimmerets are hairy, but the final ones are hard.
If you can'’’t see it on the screen, you can at least see it when you turn the lobster over and look at it.
And as a contrast, here is a female.
And you look-- every one of the swimmerets on these final, little tiny ones have feathers on them.
And that'’’s because the female takes all the eggs with her feathered legs-- and I mean her hairy legs-- and spreads them around.
So that'’’s how you can remember.
And the bands-- the claws always have bands or pegs in them so that they won'’’t bite you.
And also so that they won'’’t bite themselves, because they can harm each other.
And you must keep them live until you cook them.
And if they are shipped to you, they'’’ll often be shipped in this kind of rockweed.
And this is the seaweed that grows in their native habitat.
And this is the best way of keeping them.
Put this in a big box or pot.
Put the lobsters in, and cover them up with the rockweed and refrigerate them, and they will keep three or four days very nicely.
Otherwise, keep them in a paper bag perforated with pencil holes like this.
In the refrigerator, they'’’ll keep two or three days with the little holes to keep them... allow them to breathe.
And we'’’re going to do... we'’’re going to now cook some lobsters and do them the very simplest way.
And that'’’s going to be boiling.
And I think, for very fresh lobsters like these, the simplest way is the best.
And I'’’ve got a big pot of boiling water here.
I'’’m going to put in a big fistful of salt.
And then, when you put the lobsters in, you want to put them in head first.
And that'’’s because all of the lobsters'’’ brains, hearts and feelings are right here in the head.
And so, plunging it in head first, upside down, they'’’re immediately killed.
And then cover the pot.
And if you have just a makeshift cover, put a weight on it like that.
And then you start timing it as soon as the waters come back up to the bowl... up to the boil.
And I'’’m going to give you the timings for some various sizes, if you'’’d like to write them down.
After the boil is reached, in just a few minutes, you then start timing them.
For one to one and a quarter pounds, you time it ten to 12 minutes.
For one and a half to two pounds, 15 minutes.
For two and a half to five pounds, 20 to 25 minutes.
And for a great big Bertha over here, 16 to 20 pounds is 45 minutes.
And, you know, there'’’s always a great discussion on what'’’s the best way to cook lobsters.
Some people say cold water.
Some people say boil it.
Some people say steam it.
And steaming is this.
In the steaming, you see we'’’ve got your lobsters here, and I have them on a rack in about an inch of water.
And you time them exactly the same way.
And the water is boiling.
You put the lobsters in, put the cover on and wait until as soon as the steam begins to escape, and then... and then set your timer, and they'’’re ready, and you'’’re ready to time them.
And I'’’ve got-- one of these is ready to come out.
So I'’’m just going to take him along with me.
And now, one of the great problems is how to tell when the lobster is done.
Some people pull out the feelers, but I don'’’t think that really tells you very much.
One of the best ways to do is really just to lift the lobster up from the chest, from the tail meat.
And just look inside.
And you can see if the green matter has set.
And then there are no... there are no questions about it.
Another thing is to look at the tail meat.
Some people say they can look at the tail meat and tell that, rather than being translucent, it'’’s opaque.
And you can feel it.
I find that I can'’’t really tell anything about that.
And then another method, which I think is a very good one, is to take one of the little legs.
Pull it off at the joint nearest the body, and then break it open.
And if that meat is done, and if the meat comes from the leg, it is done.
But I think, to me, one of the best ways is to take the lobster'’’s temperature.
You have a little one of these thermometers.
You can put it in the chest meat, and I find that at 165 to 170 it'’’s done.
And then also I take the temperature in the tail meat, through that little hole, and that says 165, which is normal for that.
So I think also a very good test for the lobster.
And one thing-- look at the difference between the done lobster and the undone lobster.
See, there, you'’’ve got that beautiful blue-green, and here is the typical red.
Now, another thing that, particularly if you'’’ve boiled the lobster, it'’’s a good idea to drain it.
If they'’’ve steamed, it isn'’’t so necessary.
Take a knife and plunge it right down through the eyes, and let it drain.
Even just having been steamed, there'’’s still some liquid that comes out of it.
And I think this is particularly necessary if you'’’re going to eat the lobster, serve the lobster whole at the table, so that there isn'’’t so much water around.
And now... how to... We'’’re going to do a cold lobster.
I have one that is already cold.
And if you'’’re going to do a cold lobster, you'’’d simply let it cool after you'’’ve boiled it.
Some people run a little cold water over it first.
But that you can do if you like.
Some people feel that it sets the meat.
It sets the meat and stops the cooking.
I think the best way to open lobsters are with shears.
These are regular lobster shears with little plaited... little plaited ends.
And these are regular kitchen shears, both of which have plaited ends.
And also some people like to open lobsters with a cleaver and a hammer like that.
But I'’’m going to use the shears, and we'’’re going to do a cold lobster with a very nice little sauce.
And so here is the lobster.
And I'’’m going to start cutting it up.
So I cut it right along the underside with the shears.
I really think these are one of the very best inventions, because it'’’s so easy.
First, you cut the underside from the tail right up to the head, and you turn it over, and you cut right along the middle center of the top part of the shell, right up to but not quite through the head.
And then you take a knife, and you cut right down to separate the lobster in two lengthwise.
And then open it up.
Now, what you have here-- I want to show you the parts.
This up here is known as the sand sac, and this green material is known as the tomalley.
And there'’’s usually a little black intestinal vein that runs right along that part of him.
In this case-- and this is a she because there is the red roe running right down along the tail.
Sometimes the roe is blackish.
And that'’’s just because the eggs haven'’’t been quite well-formed.
But the intestinal vein, if you see it in there, take it out.
And then take the sand sac out, which is up in the head.
This is really the stomach.
Now I want to show you another bit of lobster lore.
If you take the sac and wash it out, you'’’ll see what is known as the lady.
That doesn'’’t show very well.
I'’’ve got a big one.
This is the lobster'’’s stomach.
Here you are.
You open it.
You'’’ve washed it out.
You open it up.
And can you see that?
This little part does look like a lady.
It looks like a little-- as the fishermen call it, they call it a Madonna.
There'’’s her head, and that'’’s a little veil coming down.
There are two little breasts, and there are her legs.
You may not see it so well now, but you'’’ll be able to see it when you open up the stomach very carefully yourself.
And we could call her Our Lady of the Sand Sac.
I think that'’’s a rather cute thing.
I never knew about that before, but somebody wrote us about it and sent us... and sent us one in an envelope.
Now I'’’m going to do a very nice little sauce, which is going to go in the... in the lobster.
And I'’’m going to use the tomalley.
And that gets sieved.
So I'’’m just going to take the tomalley and the roe, just taking it right out with a spoon.
I do know some people who have never even tried eating the tomalley, '’’cause they don'’’t realize what it is.
I think you ought to be very careful and taste it first because it should be perfectly... have a lovely, fresh, nice taste.
And if you'’’ve gotten lobsters from a very good place... ...everything should be fine about them.
Now you push that through a sieve, and you do that because sometimes there are bits of... little bits of sand or shell in it.
And then we'’’ve got some very thick homemade mayonnaise, which you know how to do, which go in there, and this all gets beaten up.
And I'’’m going to put in a little bit of strong Dijon mustard, about a teaspoon there.
And then this is going to have some chopped parsley and chives and capers.
If you don'’’t have chives, you could use shallot or scallions.
I'’’m going to chop that up fairly fine.
And I'’’m going to put in a few little capers here.
I think it'’’s nice to have little special sauces for things like fish and lobster because it does dress them up.
Chop that up fairly fine.
And then that goes in here.
Now, what we have in here-- we have... we have the tomalley, we have mustard, we have mayonnaise, and I'’’m going to put in a little bit of... a little bit of lemon, I think.
And some pepper after the mayonnaise is very nicely flavored.
Just a drop of lemon in there.
And maybe that'’’s all I need to put in.
I'’’ll just taste it.
I love these sauces that are really nice and simple.
This claw has.. rather than a rubber band, it has a wooden peg in it.
And there'’’s the lobster nicely set on its platter.
And in goes the mayonnaise.
Right into the cavity there.
And a lobster of this size, you could perfectly well...
This one, if you were just having it is a first course...
There'’’s a little bit that'’’s come out.
One lobster would perfectly well do for two people.
This is a good maybe two pounds.
And I'’’m putting a little chopped egg on the tail meat here to keep it dry and also to decorate it a little bit.
And then parsley, I'’’m going to put around in various, vacant interstices, or however you pronounce that.
And then I think it needs another accent of lemon, so I'’’m going to put the lemon up there.
And I think it could also have just a little bit of parsley right in the middle there.
I'’’ll turn down my pot here.
Now, that'’’s a very simple and attractive method for doing a cold lobster.
You see how quickly that sauce was made.
And now for hot lobster.
And this, I want to show you how to eat by yourself, if you'’’re faced alone and unaided with a boiled lobster and nobody'’’s ever shown you how to eat it.
I think it can sometimes be embarrassing.
I'’’m going to puncture a hole in it and drain it out first.
And I think this is a good thing to do '’’cause it'’’s a nuisance, if you'’’re going to eat a whole lobster and there'’’s a whole lot of water that gets into your plate.
So now... Yeah, that is perfectly done, I presume, but I think the best way to tell that it'’’s done is to be sure that you'’’ve carefully timed it.
And be sure that you have a loud enough timer so if you have on the radio or something, you'’’d be listening to that and you wouldn'’’t hear that the lobster was done.
And I think this looks... feels done and is done, so we shall go in and eat it.
Look who'’’s come to dinner.
She took 45 minutes to cook.
And now be sure that you have-- when you'’’re going to eat plain, boiled lobster-- be sure that you have melted butter.
And then for each person, have a little bowl to put the butter in.
And if you'’’re modern, have lobster shears.
Otherwise, have a nutcracker and a pick, little forks, a bowl for scraps, finger bowl, lemon, plenty of napkins.
And I think the first thing to do-- everyone has their own way to eat a lobster, but I always take off all the little legs first, and they'’’re my hors d'’’oeuvre.
Because, while you'’’re eating the little legs, the rest of the lobster has time to cool off a little bit '’’cause it'’’s good and hot.
And you just twist them off.
And then to eat them, you just break the joint and suck out the meat.
(grunting) With your... and that'’’s some of the very, very best meat.
Or I always seem to say that about every part of the lobster.
Now I'’’m going to take off the big claw and the joint.
You just twist that off on each side.
And then break the big claw from the joint like that.
And then I'’’ll show you how to take your scissors, or if you just have a nutcracker, crack it.
But the scissors are much better.
And cut up each side.
So that you can just take the claw off.
I mean take the... the shell off.
And then, you see, you lift the shell off, and you have this meat in here that is delicious.
My husband, he likes the big claw, and I like the claw joint, so we exchange little legs for claws.
Now, here'’’s your big claw.
That one needed a little draining.
But you'’’ve got your two sides.
You'’’ve got your small side and your big side.
Take your small side, and bend it down hard at right angles.
And this little cartilage has come out of the large side of the meat.
And then I'’’m going to move this back here '’’cause it'’’s dripping.
Take your scissors, and you can cut a window out from the large end.
And then you can get the meat out whole.
There, you see that?
Then you have the small end, which you can usually take out with a nut pick.
There, that'’’s the little one.
Now you have the tail.
And just simply hold the lobster in both hands and twist.
By this time, you hope it'’’s still rather warm.
You have... here you have some of the tomalley.
There'’’s the roe.
And the old Down-Easterners-- a little more roe-- break these tail bits off, and then they poke the meat out with their fingers.
See if I can get that out.
This is a little... this is easier to do with a... but you can take your finger and just poke the meat out.
Well, it did come out.
That was very nice.
So there'’’s that tail.
And also, cut up through here and see if you have the intestinal vein.
Which we don'’’t seem to have.
Then you find eating this... this meat is just... the taste is so good.
It has a... well, it'’’s just hard to describe what the lobster tastes like.
It really just tastes like lobster.
It'’’s just like nothing else.
And it'’’s... well, it'’’s absolutely delicious.
Now we have the chest part.
I think I should move this over here so we can see the chest more clearly.
Now, you take it.
The chest has a shell and then the chest itself, and you pull that out.
And in the shell here, you have all the rest of this delicious green matter, and you also have the sand sac.
And you just scrape the tomalley from around the sand sac, and any coagulated white material you add, because that also is delicious eating.
And you also have a little more in the chest meat.
And then you have gills on the outside of the chest-- sort of spongy things-- which you pull off because they'’’re not edible.
And then you break the chest in half lengthwise.
And with your little spoon... little... little... a little fork there, you have this absolutely delicious meat from the chest, which is very, very tender and good.
Some people take the whole thing and chew it, but I like to have the benefit of having every bit of that chest meat, '’’cause it'’’s so delicious.
There'’’s not a great deal of it, but it'’’s very, very tender.
I think... (chuckling): Well, I keep saying it, but it'’’s one of the best.
Now you have various ways of eating a lobster.
Some people like to take all of the meat out and put it in the butter sauce, and other people like to do it bit by bit, but that'’’s your own personal experience.
So, here you are with the... how to eat the hot lobster, and here is this very pretty way of doing just a plain, cold-boiled lobster.
And here is Big Bertha, who I must say is a pleasure to see on any dining room table.
And she'’’s perfectly tender, too, except for the very tips of her claws.
And with it, lobster like this, serve a... a dry white wine-- an Alsatian Riesling or a Pinot Blanc.
So there'’’s your lobster story from tip to tail and hot to cold, and that'’’s all for today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org ANNOUNCER: This program was made possible by a grant from Polaroid Corporation.
Julia Child is the author of From Julia Child'’’s Kitchen, which includes the recipes from this program.