What to do with a supermarket lobster

A plate of fettuccine pasta with Lobster and Fire roasted tomatoes in a spicy red pepper flake sauce
A plate of fettuccine pasta with Lobster and Fire roasted tomatoes in a spicy red pepper flake sauce

With supermarkets selling whole lobsters (or just lobster tails) at bargain prices, it's tempting to add them to your Christmas feast, but do you know what to do with one?

Gok Wan's lobster noodles dish in the video above is very quick to make in a wok, brings back memories of Chinese New Year and probably guarantees you health, wealth and happiness to boot. It also includes a super-quick recipe for the best Chinese 'gravy' you'll ever make. So If you have some Chinese store-cupboard ingredients left over from other stir-fries you'll be able to put them to good use in this one. (Hint: if you practise this now, it might make an impressive dish to serve a loved one on St Valentine's Day).

Most of the lobsters on sale in the UK have previously been cooked. It should say on the pack, but if you're in any doubt, check the colour. If it's blue or grey, it will need cooking. If pink, red or orange, it's cooked. Defrost it by placing it in a fridge overnight. Use a bowl to stop the ice glaze melting all over your fridge.

How to remove the inedible bits
Firstly, don't be afraid of it - think of it as a huge prawn. Cut it in half vertically on a board by pushing the point of a large heavy knife into the top of the body and pressing the knife downwards to cut the head into two equal halves. Turn the lobster around and cut vertically through the tail. Separate the two halves.

Find and throw away two small pieces. Locate the stomach sack at the front end behind the eyes. It often looks like a small plastic bag of grey grit (it's sometimes called the sand sack). Lift it out and discard. Then go the the tail end and look for the intestinal tract. It looks like a thread or a vein and can be white if empty and greyish if full. It should run from the end of the tail right past all the nice white meat and into the body. Find as much as you can and discard (like deveining a large prawn).

You may also see the orange roe (or coral). This is edible (if a little waxy) and the liver or tomally - which is a greeny grey and considered a delicacy.

Easy things to do with a lobster
Like a big prawn, cooked lobster is a delicate thing - you need to avoid overcooking it when you reheat it. The trick is to eat it cold (or at room temperature) or to reheat it minimally to preserve the flavour and texture well.

Make a luxurious seafood cocktail

Slice it into a fish soup or add as the last ingredient in a fish pie

Make a lobster roll - this is very quick, makes the most of the taste and is very on-trend

Lobster salad is a creamy retro dish that makes the most of lobster's delicate flavour

Lobster with pink grapefruit butter pairs delicate seafood with gentle and fragrant citrus

Two other great ways of cooking a lobster:
Grilled lobster with bloody Mary linguine makes a great special occasion lunch

Classic lobster spaghetti might bring back memories of honeymoons in the Mediterranean

Too scary?
And if you don't feel able to take on a lobster just yet, Angela Hartnett's lovely recipe of king prawns with sherry might be just the thing.

Happy Christmas!

More festive food ideas:
Christmas menus: Festive food for everyone
Christmas cooking for one or two
Festive cocktails, hot drinks and party food
How to have a Scandinavian-style Christmas

Turkey know-how
Prepare and stuff the turkey
The very best gravy to make on the day
Perfect roast potatoes
How to carve a turkey like an expert
Twelve ways to cook Brussels sprouts

Make Christmas easier on yourself:
Nine magic Christmas hacks
How to decode a whisky label
Take the stress out of Christmas
Christmas baking and dessert recipes

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