Nothing says summer like enjoying a lobster dinner on a beach. And an authentic description of a lobster dinner might include the terms “live lobster,” “succulent,” “red,” “scrumptious,” and “hella expensive.” But what if your lobster is already dead; can you cook it?
The lobster should be safe to eat if cooked within a few hours of its death, although it won’t have the same ideal texture and flavor. Again it depends on the temperatures and the storage conditions of the lobster, but as a rule of thumb, if it’s still cold to the touch, it should be okay.
Lobsters are more perishable than most people realize, and their meat begins to decompose once they die. So, if you’re unsure when a lobster died, it’s best not to eat it because the dead lobster’s body is probably acting as a breeding ground for bacteria that might emit toxic chemicals that can make you sick!
Is It Possible To Cook Dead Lobster?
You can cook a dead lobster, but it will not be as succulent, tender, and delicious as a live one. If you have to cook a dead lobster, do so within a few hours of its death for the best results.
And be sure to cook it thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria that might be present. Otherwise, you could end up with an awful case of food poisoning that’ll ruin your summer fun!
How To Tell If The Lobster Is Dormant Not Dead
Hold on for a moment; the lobster you may declare dead could be just sleeping. If a lobster has recently molted (a process where lobsters shed their hard outer shell for a new one), it’s not uncommon for it to enter a state of dormancy where it doesn’t move for a few days as its new shell hardens.
Also, most people use cold water to put lobsters into a dormant state before shipping, so they don’t move around and complicate delivery. When they arrive, however, they may still exhibit very slight signs of activity, leading you to believe they are dead.
To fully get a lobster back to its active form, you can put it into much warmer water and wait a couple of extra hours. The lobster should then start to wiggle around after some time.
If you’re still unsure if the lobster is truly dead or just resting, there are a few things you can do to check:
- Gently poke the lobster with a sharp object. If it doesn’t react, it’s likely dead.
- Look for any signs of decomposition, such as a foul odor, discolored shell, or mushy texture.
- Put the lobster in a pot of boiling water. If it’s alive, it will thrash around. If it’s dead, it will not react.
Another telltale sign of a live lobster is that it always has muscle spasms (especially in the tail region), which cause the tail to curl under the body while it cooks. If this doesn’t happen, the lobster was probably already dead before you started cooking it.
How Do You Tell If The Lobster Is Already Dead?
There are a few ways to tell if the lobster is already dead:
- Odor– Like all other crustaceans, lobsters start to decay as soon as they die, and since internal chemical processes are taking place, it is only natural that they emit a smell. If you think the lobster smells off, it is probably best not to eat it.
- The slimy meat– The main factor that causes lobster meat to turn slimy occasionally is the quick decomposition that occurs when they die. Plenty of toxins get released, altering the lobster’s internal structure in many ways; this makes the meat mushy and sometimes extra soft.
- Change in color– As lobsters decompose, their meat also changes color. It’s because of the breakdown of myoglobin, which is a protein that gives seafood its red or pinkish coloration. When this protein starts to break down, it turns the meat brown.
Note: live lobsters twitch their tails and tuck them below their bodies when you put them into boiling water. If your lobster doesn’t do this, it’s probably already dead.
How To Cook A Dead Lobster
If you set your mind on cooking a dead lobster, the first thing you should do is check for any signs of spoilage. If the lobster smells terrible or the meat is slimy or discolored, it’s best to throw it out. But if it looks and smells fine, you can cook it.
Keep in mind that the lobster will not be as succulent as a live one, and the meat will be less tender.
So, to cook the lobster, plunge it head first into a boiling court bouillon. If it’s 800g, leave it to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s over 800g, leave it to cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
However, there are other methods of cooking a dead lobster, such as steaming, broiling, or grilling.
- Steaming– For a lobster weighing between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 pounds, steam it in a covered steamer basket for 18 to 20 minutes. Ensure at least two inches of water in the pot, so it doesn’t boil dry.
- Broiling– When broiling a lobster, spray the flesh with melted butter and sprinkle it with bread crumbs. Broil the lobster six inches from the heat source until the bread crumbs turn brown, then move it to a 400°F oven to finish cooking.
- Grilling– First, parboil the lobster for five to seven minutes. Before grilling the lobster, split it in half lengthwise and brush the flesh with olive oil. You can season it with salt and some pepper, then grill over medium-high heat for about eight minutes.
Whichever method you select, cook your lobster thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present.
A word of caution: don’t overcook it; when the meat is no longer transparent, it means it’s well-cooked. If you overcook the lobster, the flesh becomes tough and rubbery.
Which Parts Of The Lobster Should You Eat?
You can eat the meat from the lobster’s legs, claws, and tail. Removing the tail meat is easy, but extracting claw meat is tricky. Claw meat contains rich and intense flavor, so it’s worth the effort.
As for the leg meat, you’ll have to suck it out with a straw as it’s pretty challenging to remove. The best way to enjoy lobster is by dipping the meat in clarified butter, which brings out its natural sweetness.
When Shouldn’t You Cook A Dead Lobster?
The excellent course of action is never to consume a lobster whose exact moment of death is unknown. Once a lobster dies, it releases harmful bacteria that rapidly multiply, discharging toxins that might not get destroyed through cooking.
Additionally, if 24 hours have elapsed since the lobster’s death, don’t cook it. After a day, too many toxins get released for cooking to make the lobster safe to eat.
In short, only cook a dead lobster if you’re confident when it died, and it hasn’t been more than a few hours. If not, it’s best to get a live one and avoid the risk altogether.
It’s safe to cook and eat a freshly dead lobster. When you allow lobsters to sit dead for many hours, they decompose, causing the meat to turn poisonous, odorous, and even adopt textural changes. Happy lobster eating!